Deeper fakes

If you were planning to vote in “the world’s largest democracy” — a.k.a. “the Republic of India” — you might be following an “avatar” of one of the major parties. The Indian political scene has now slightly evolved from the standard we were accustomed to, in the United States, where dead people have long filled the voters’ rolls (though I expect the U.S. will catch up shortly). For in India, the actual candidate may be dead, or the “influencer” speaking for him may have perished — some time ago. A certain “Duwaraka,” for instance — the young daughter of a Tamil Tiger chief, who died in an airstrike back in 2009 — now reappears as an articulate middle-aged lady in Tamil election videos. Prominent politicians, not previously noted for their musical or bunny-hopping skills, adeptly sing and dance (and in athletic costumes); and there are other surprising achievements.

These are all current features of “artificial intelligence,” reported to the Beeb. I have elsewhere read commentaries on the “brave new world” that AI has made possible.

But really, one need only look at the performances of Justin Trudeau, or Joe Biden — two  miracles of the older technology — to see that democracy is not especially threatened. For these and other men (and women!) were also avatars, probably from birth, created by expert political projectionists. Only the naïve could think that they were tangible.

The new, entirely electronic avatars are only slightly more sophisticated than the old ones they replace. They bring just a little bit of technical progress to our governing estates.