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Where's AI: What Happens When AI Becomes Undetectable?

Apr 09, 2024
 An AI-generated image of  Where's Waldo image with AI robot.

Hello Digital Detectives,

New Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is opening a realm of legal and ethical questions. While some see the creative potential of these advancements, many are approaching this new technology with caution and concern.

Currently, searching for hidden AI content feels like searching for a robot in a Where’s Waldo scene with hidden realities and upside-down potential.

As I have said before, a healthy dose of skepticism is critical to the advancement of technology. It shows that our critical thinking skills are working. We should and must continue to approach new media with a thoughtful analysis of its implications. If we ever stop doing that, we have the potential to unwittingly release destruction that can not be pulled back in.

One of the major current concerns is over undetectable AI and deep fakes. Undetectable AI refers to generated content that uses an advanced algorithm to imitate human written content. While undetectable AI refers to written content, deep fake typically refers to videos and images generated to portray a real person doing something or being somewhere they never were. In both cases, the content aims to deceive the audience.

Although we can currently (with some effort) detect AI and deep fakes, we are quickly approaching a point where distinguishing between human or AI-generated content will become impossible. We also, if not already, will not be able to see the difference between real or AI-generated images and video.

What happens when our ability to perceive and detect reality is non-existent?

In an era where we have already lost touch with truth and cannot agree on basic factual information, when we lose all understanding of reality, how will our society shift?

Societal Paranoia

In a recent article, The Guardian explained that finding ways to distinguish between real and fake photos is a “race against time.” These AI fakes struck society at its most vulnerable moment, following years of battling ‘fake news’ and the unraveling of trust

We are in a society where even if you tell people something is fake, they do not believe you. Warnings are often met with resistance and suspicion of a hidden agenda. Our “societal paranoia” is leading us down a dangerous path. In fact, in the same article, Henry Parker, head of government affairs at a fact-checking group, stated, “If you tell somebody they’re looking at a deep fake before they even watch it, the social psychology of watching that video is so powerful that they will still reference it as if it was fact. So the only thing you can do is ask how can we reduce the amount of time this content is in circulation?”

Loss of Trusted Voices

For decades, journalists were trusted sources of information. In a 1972 poll, CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite was voted the “most trusted voice in America.” The Obama administration once said in a statement,

He was someone we could trust to guide us through the most important issues of the day; a voice of certainty in an uncertain world. He was family. He invited us to believe in him, and he never let us down.

What happened to the trust?

Deadlines and a culture of immediacy–as technology advanced, so did the demand for minute-to-minute coverage of the world. In my opinion, 24-hour news stations were the inciting incident that, combined with other factors, led to the slow death of trust in journalism.

Publishers issued newspapers in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon. Broadcast networks aired newscasts at 5 pm and 9 pm. This limited news consumption allowed journalists to fact-check and correct stories before releasing them. There was no immediacy pressure other than making it to press in time for one or two times a day. In addition, the news was a carefully curated representation of the main events of the day.

The inherent problem with 24-hour news stations is their constant need to “feed the beast.” As the clock ticks, there needs to be content around the clock. This demand for content led to speculation, editorializing, and elevating events that otherwise would not have received the same amount of attention. These factors, while not the only reason, resulted in a loss of trust.

So what do we do about it?

So, now comes the time for me to tell you how we fix the problem.

But I can’t.

There is no ONE answer. There is no “easy fix” to this problem. It took years to get here, and it will take years to get out.

If society chooses, we can turn back to the clock and find our way back to trust. But it will not come without some effort and strategy. We must consider the cost of continuing with societal paranoia alongside the investment required to correct the course.

If we choose to correct the course, it will take a collective effort. We must all take responsibility for educating ourselves and encouraging the digital literacy of those around us. We must hold each other accountable to a higher standard. We need to build a community where people are expected to think critically and evaluate strategically.

But the depressing part is that even if we succeed at that, until we stop elevating sources of disinformation, we will always be behind the curve. Until we hold sources accountable, it will be a race to the bottom.

On my best days, I believe we can do it. I have faith that our “better angels” will prevail. In fact, the lines from President Lincoln’s first inaugural address could be given today.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

But on my worst day, I wonder why I do what I do. I feel overwhelmed in a sea of work with only a small pail and a shovel.

I cannot do it alone.

You cannot do it alone.

The truth is we can’t even do it together–just the two of us.

We must find a way to wake up our nation and the world and navigate back to the path of rational sanity.

Until we do that, we will be stuck searching for AI within a “Where’s Waldo” image of hidden realities.


Extra credit: If you want to see how news sources compare to each other regarding biases, I have found Ad Frontes Media to be a reliable and up-to-date source. They monitor misleading and inaccurate information across spectrums without political biases.


The image was created by Dall-e using the following prompt: Make an image inspired by Where's Waldo. It is flat, and you can see multiple people and things but put a single hidden robot in it.


Inspiration is everywhere.

Keep discovering. There is always more to learn.

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