AI Disinformation: Are We More Likely To Fall For Fake News When Generated By AI?

Category Artificial Intelligence

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A recent study found that people were 3% less likely to spot false tweets generated by AI than those written by humans. OpenAI's large language model GPT-3 is powerful and can generate incorrect text that appears convincing. AI-text-detection tools are still in its early stages of development and further research is needed to determine the impact of AI-generated inauthentic content.

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Disinformation generated by AI may be more convincing than disinformation written by humans, a new study suggests. The research found that people were 3% less likely to spot false tweets generated by AI than those written by humans. That credibility gap, while small, is concerning given that the problem of AI-generated disinformation seems poised to grow significantly, says Giovanni Spitale, the researcher at the University of Zurich who led the study, which appeared in Science Advances today .

AI-generated disinformation can spread quickly, cheaply and at a large-scale due to the nature of AI algorithms

"The fact that AI-generated disinformation is not only cheaper and faster, but also more effective, gives me nightmares," he says. He believes that if the team repeated the study with the latest large language model from OpenAI, GPT-4, the difference would be even bigger, given how much more powerful GPT-4 is. To test our susceptibility to different types of text, the researchers chose common disinformation topics, including climate change and covid .

Studies have shown that people are more likely to believe information from AI-generated content than organic information

Then they asked OpenAI’s large language model GPT-3 to generate 10 true tweets and 10 false ones, and collected a random sample of both true and false tweets from Twitter.Next, they recruited 697 people to complete an online quiz judging whether tweets were generated by AI or collected from Twitter, and whether they were accurate or contained disinformation. They found that participants were 3% less likely to believe human-written false tweets than AI-written ones .

AI-generated disinformation can influence public opinion and behavior more easily

The researchers are unsure why people may be more likely to believe tweets written by AI. But the way in which GPT-3 orders information could have something to do with it, according to Spitale. "GPT-3’s text tends to be a bit more structured when compared to organic [human-written] text," he says. "But it’s also condensed, so it’s easier to process."The generative AI boom puts powerful, accessible AI tools in the hands of everyone, including bad actors .

AI-generated disinformation can be used in conspiracy theories and by bad actors

Models like GPT-3 can generate incorrect text that appears convincing, which could be used to generate false narratives quickly and cheaply for conspiracy theorists and disinformation campaigns. The weapons to fight the problem—AI text-detection tools—are still in the early stages of development, and many are not entirely accurate. OpenAI is aware that its AI tools could be weaponized to produce large-scale disinformation campaigns .

AI-text-detection tools are still in its early stages of development and Artificial Intelligence companies are now more aware of its use to generate large-scale disinfo campaigns

Although this violates its policies, it released a report in January warning that it’s "all but impossible to ensure that large language models are never used to generate disinformation." OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.However, the company has also urged caution when it comes to overestimating the impact of disinformation campaigns. Further research is needed to determine the populations at greatest risk from AI-generated inauthentic content, as well as the relationship between AI model size and the overall performance or persuasiveness of its output, the authors of OpenAI’s report say .

OpenAI urges caution in overestimating the impact of disinformation campaigns from AI-generated text

It’s too early to panic, says Jon Roozenbeek, a postdoc researcher who studies misinformation at the department of psychology at the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the study. Although distributing disiinformation at-scale with AI will likely become easier, it’s hard to determine whether AI-generated text will alter public opinion or behavior in any meaningful way, he says.

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