Editor’s Note: Laurie Segall is a longtime tech journalist and the founder of Mostly Human, an entertainment company that produces docs, films and digital content focused on the intersection of technology and humanity. She is the author of ”Special Characters: My Adventures with Tech’s Titans and Misfits.” Previously, she was CNN’s senior technology correspondent. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. Read more opinion on CNN.
Sexually explicit AI-generated photos of pop superstar Taylor Swift have flooded the internet, and we don’t need to calm down.
Swift may be one of the most famous women in the world, but she represents every woman and every girl when it comes to what’s at stake in the future of artificial intelligence and consent.
I’ve been in the trenches covering the impact of technology for nearly 15 years, and I believe sexually explicit deepfakes are one of the most significant threats we face with advances in AI. With the proliferation of AI-generated tools and Silicon Valley’s tendency to race to innovate, we are entering a phase of tech that feels familiar — only now, the stakes are even higher.
We are in an era where it’s not just our data that’s up for grabs, it’s our most intimate qualities: Our voices, our faces, our bodies can all now be mimicked by AI. Put simply: Our humanity is a click away from being used against us.
And if it can happen to Swift, it can happen to you. The biggest mistake we can make is believing that this type of harm is reserved for public figures. We are now seeing a democratization of image-generating apps enabling this type of behavior. Did your crush reject you? There’s an app for that. Now, you can digitally undress her or create your own explicit deepfake starring her.
The problem will only get worse as we move into augmented and virtual worlds. Imagine an immersive environment where a scorned ex invites others to collectively view a sexually explicit deepfake video of the girl who rejected him. Earlier this month, it was reported that British police are investigating the case of a 16-year old who alleged being raped in the virtual world by multiple attackers.