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Tech Companies Agree to New Accord to Limit the Impacts of AI Deepfakes

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Tech Companies Agree to New Accord to Limit the Impacts of AI Deepfakes

With the latest examples of generative AI video wowing people with their accuracy, they also underline the potential threat that we now face from artificial content, which could soon be used to depict unreal, yet convincing scenes that could influence people’s opinions, and their subsequent responses.

Like, for example, how they vote.

With this in mind, late last week, at the 2024 Munich Security Conference, representatives from almost every major tech company agreed to a new pact to implement “reasonable precautions” in preventing artificial intelligence tools from being used to disrupt democratic elections.

As per the Tech Accord to Combat Deceptive Use of AI in 2024 Elections”:

“2024 will bring more elections to more people than any year in history, with more than 40 countries and more than four billion people choosing their leaders and representatives through the right to vote. At the same time, the rapid development of artificial intelligence, or AI, is creating new opportunities as well as challenges for the democratic process. All of society will have to lean into the opportunities afforded by AI and to take new steps together to protect elections and the electoral process during this exceptional year.”

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Executives from Google, Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI, X, and TikTok are among those who’ve agreed to the new accord, which will ideally see broader cooperation and coordination to help address AI-generated fakes before they can have an impact.

The accord lays out seven key elements of focus, which all signatories have agreed to, in principle, as key measures:

The main benefit of the initiative is the commitment from each company to work together to share best practices, and “explore new pathways to share best-in-class tools and/or technical signals about Deceptive AI Election Content in response to incidents”.

The agreement also sets out an ambition for each “to engage with a diverse set of global civil society organizations, academics” in order to inform broader understanding of the global risk landscape.

It’s a positive step, though it’s also non-binding, and it’s more of a goodwill gesture on the part of each company to work towards the best solutions. As such, it doesn’t lay out definitive actions to be taken, or penalties for failing to do so. But it does, ideally, set the stage for broader collaborative action to stop misleading AI content before it can have a significant impact.

Though that impact is relative.

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For example, in the recent Indonesian election, various AI deepfake elements were employed to sway voters, including a video depiction of deceased leader Suharto designed to inspire support, and cartoonish versions of some candidates, as a means to soften their public personas.

These were AI-generated, which is clear from the start, and no one was going to be misled into believing that these were actual images of how the candidates look, nor that Suharto had returned from the dead. But the impact of such can be significant, even with that knowledge, which underlines the power of such in perception, even if they are subsequently removed, labeled, etc.

That could be the real risk. If an AI-generated image of Joe Biden or Donald Trump has enough resonance, the origin of it could be trivial, as it could still sway voters based on the depiction, whether it’s real or not.

Perception matters, and smart use of deepfakes will have an impact, and will sway some voters, regardless of safeguards and precautions.

Which is a risk that we now have to bear, given that such tools are already readily available, and like social media before, we’re going to be assessing the impacts in retrospect, as opposed to plugging holes ahead of time.

Because that’s the way technology works, we move fast, we break things. Then we pick up the pieces.  

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

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This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

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“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

Instagram’s testing out some new options to help spice up your live-streams in the app, with some live broadcasters now able to select a game that they can play with viewers in-stream.

As you can see in these example screens, posted by Ahmed Ghanem, some creators now have the option to play either “This or That”, a question and answer prompt that you can share with your viewers, or “Trivia”, to generate more engagement within your IG live-streams.

That could be a simple way to spark more conversation and interaction, which could then lead into further engagement opportunities from your live audience.

Meta’s been exploring more ways to make live-streaming a bigger consideration for IG creators, with a view to live-streams potentially catching on with more users.

That includes the gradual expansion of its “Stars” live-stream donation program, giving more creators in more regions a means to accept donations from live-stream viewers, while back in December, Instagram also added some new options to make it easier to go live using third-party tools via desktop PCs.

Live streaming has been a major shift in China, where shopping live-streams, in particular, have led to massive opportunities for streaming platforms. They haven’t caught on in the same way in Western regions, but as TikTok and YouTube look to push live-stream adoption, there is still a chance that they will become a much bigger element in future.

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Which is why IG is also trying to stay in touch, and add more ways for its creators to engage via streams. Live-stream games is another element within this, which could make this a better community-building, and potentially sales-driving option.

We’ve asked Instagram for more information on this test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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