As companies rush in to use AI, it is causing hiccups to law agencies around the world!

The Anvil of Synthetic Media and AI: A terrifying tale!

Let’s step back for a second and think of the term, Artificial Intelligence. What is it? If you Google it, this is what you get:

It refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions.

Simply put, intelligent machines built to work and think like humans!

Till 2019, only 29% companies used AI. While AI is in demand, 40% of AI Startups in Europe don’t even use ‘AI’. Companies say they use AI/ML, but most don’t drive strategies using AI!

Today, AI is everywhere in our lives. From Netflix’s recommendation system or detecting cart abandonments on eCommerce websites/apps — it is analyzing everything at every moment, telling us how to make better decisions!

On social media, in particular, everything we do, every second we spend on the top is captured, and what we see when our news feed refreshes is the type of content we usually interact and engage on!

Well, soon, AI may be doing more than showing us ‘relevant’ content; it, soon, may even create mainstream content for us. Yes, autogenerated content, more commonly called synthetic content, is on the rise — synthetic music, synthetic videos, synthetic write-ups, etc.

Though still early days, make no mistake, it’s coming!

Really, can you show us some examples? Certainly!


If you are an ardent music lover, you may have heard of Johann Sebastian Bach, the legendary German composer. He passed away in 1750, but he is alive again, in AI form! The algorithm called DeepBach aims to model polyphonic and instrumental music! Even Google has an open project to explore the role of AI in music called Magenta!


In 2016, at Cannes, Eclipse, the movie that won the Best Short Film was entirely created by AI. There are algorithms out there that generate videos from plain text!

Using DeepFakes, you can swap faces of actors, even politicians! It’s a technology in which a person in an existing video is replaced with someone else’s likeness (fake videos that look like the real thing!). Even Samsung revealed that they could turn your profile photo into 3D DeepFakes.

This video from one of Bloomberg’s YouTube channels explains how easy it is to create a DeepFakes video!

Further, AI can create fake videos from a single photo! There is also a new dance app called Sway that makes someone appear to be completing dance moves based on recorded motion data.


In September, Microsoft acquired exclusive licensing for the GPT-3, an AI language generator built on the most powerful language model ever imagined.

Here’s the fun part — it can predict outcomes on Google Sheets, in addition to writing screenplays, pop songs, and even newspaper op-eds on its own.


NVIDIA demonstrated GauGAN, an algorithm that can turn doodles into beautiful, photorealistic landscapes. A week or so ago, Microsoft also launched its advanced Image Captioning algorithm on Azure — it can caption images equally well as humans can!

ING and Microsoft teamed up to have AI paint a Rembrandt painting — it painted a critic-defying one, 600 years after Rembrandt’s passing!

Scary, right?

Will AI take creative jobs? What such breakthroughs do is create a never-ending question: Whether AI will take our jobs or create new ones?

It bothered Ned Ludd in 1779 when the Spinning Jenny threatened to take jobs at textile factories. He went and smashed a machine or two, staring a movement against textile technology! The Luddite movement, as its more commonly called, was strident in India. When computers were introduced, worker unions smashed 1000s of them, but it turned out that the IT industry created millions of jobs than take them!

But is AI different? It’s a technology that may make humans redundant, so yes, the worry is real. Livemint quotes Turing Award winner Alan Perlis: “A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.” The World Economic Forum, on the other hand, predicts 133 million new jobs to be created by 2022, thanks to AI.

Acclaimed AI practitioner Kai Fu Lee, in a Time editorial, explains four types of jobs are not at risk: Creative jobs (scientists, artists, novelists), complex and strategic jobs (economists, diplomats), empathetic, and any new jobs that may be created in the future!

Maybe Kai’s predictions, at least for writers, are not accurate, considering earlier cited examples of GPT-3 writing screenplays and op-eds.

Security and Ethical AI

In 2018, Elon Musk even said it:

‘Mark my words — AI is far more dangerous than nukes’.

While we may fall in love with the simplicity of future bots that could potentially create mind-blowing synthetic content, we must remain ethical in our practices!

While AI is being adopted widely, the next thing to master: Ethical AI | Image: governmentciomedia

2 days ago, BBC reported that faked nude images of more than 100K women, including kids, have been created by a Telegram bot, using DeepFakes technology, and shared online. If such news becomes common, Synthetic tech poses severe challenges in terms of privacy, manipulation, and security.

There is a requirement of stringent laws like the one US state of Virginia introduced last year, banning all computer-generated pornography!

In 2014, Stephen Hawking said that “AI would be humankind’s best or last invention”. Come 2020: major corporations are building AI into their offerings to stay competitive and outwit their competition.

With companies rushing in to use AI, and while only 11% have reaped “sizable” returns on their investments, concerns over ethics grow. Off late, there has been an increase in demand for roles like Chief AI officer, because one of their core responsibilities is to ensure how data is handled and AI ethics are followed!

In 2019, in the US, President Trump’s administration launched the American AI initiative, where government officials would not only ensure US private sector can freely embrace AI, but would also address the challenging technical and ethical questions that AI can create!

Even Trump has been the subject of a few DeepFake videos!

Earlier this year, Ursula von der Leyen, the EU commissioner wanted to ensure there is legislation ensuring the production of ethical AI in Europe. In India, earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced RAISE 2020 — Responsible AI for Social Empowerment. To simplify, like Finshots calls out,

“The discussion largely centered on India’s potential as a rising power in the field of Artificial Intelligence and how it can be used to promote the public good!”

Today, AI is everywhere, and everyone uses it. If it takes our jobs or not, which is the most significant debate in the world, is secondary, but as more synthetic media emerges, we have to be responsible on how we use it, most importantly ensuring we do not hurt anyone by any means!

Together, we should be building goodwill and trust through our actions, allowing us to realize the benefits of these powerful new technologies.

What are your thoughts on synthetic media?




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Vaibhav Agarwal

Vaibhav Agarwal

Analytics Leader | Love Writing | Foodie | Travel Enthusiast | Plane Spotter

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