What is generative artificial intelligence (AI)?
Many artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are used to classify, organize or reason about data. Generative algorithms create data using models of the world to synthesize images, sounds and videos that often look increasingly realistic. The algorithms begin with models of what a world must be like and then they create a simulated world that fits the model.
Generative AIs are frequently found in various content creation roles. They’re used by movie makers to either fill narrative gaps or, sometimes, carry much of the storyline. Some news organizations generate short snippets or even entire stories about events, especially highly structured sports or financial reports.
Not all generative algorithms produce content. Some algorithms are deployed in user interfaces to enhance the screen or user interfaces. Others help the blind by generating audio descriptions. In many applications, the techniques assist rather than take center stage.
The algorithms are now common enough that developers make artistic decisions about their goals. Some aim for the most realistic output and judge it by how indistinguishable the people or animals may be from photographic footage of actual creatures. Others think like artists or animators and want to produce a more stylized product that is obviously not real but more like a cartoon.
What are the dangers of generative AIs?
Some generative AI algorithms are good enough to deceive. These results, sometimes called “deep fakes,” may be used to masquerade as another person and commit all manners of fraud in their name. Some may try to imitate a person and withdraw money from a bank. Others may try to place words in another person’s mouth to frame them for a crime like libel, slander or more.
One particularly salacious approach involves generating pornography that seems to include another person. These results may be used for blackmail, coercion, extortion or revenge.
Can the results of generative AIs be distinguished from real images?
The results of modern algorithms are often very realistic but a trained eye can usually spot small differences. This is harder with some of the best algorithms that are often found in the best computer graphics for Hollywood movies with large budgets.