On Perplexity and the challenge it poses for Digital Media

Perplexity is a fascinating AI application that I sometimes use to read the news, but it has me worried for a while now.

It takes a Wikipedia-like approach to compilation of news and information: it takes verified news sources and compiles the information in a format that is simple and easy to understand, with all the key facts. It also allows you to ask questions, answers to which it creates on the fly, based once again, on sources. 

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Deepfakes and elections

Two things stood out for me from our discussion on deep fakes and democracy on Wednesday:

Firstly, Gautham Koorma pointed out that detection of deep fakes becomes much difficult when they’re published on social media, because platforms transcode the content. With minor modifications, comparing hashes can become fruitless exercise. This means that on the whole, detecting deep fakes on social media is not possible with 100% accuracy, even if the deep fake is being compared with an existing dataset. Holding safe harbor to ransom is thus not the right approach.

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On OpenAI and the use of AI in warfare

OpenAI has quietly changed its terms to allow it to work with Military and for Warfare. This is a worrying development, especially since OpenAI has scraped a large amount of publicly available data from across the world. While it says that its tech should not be used for harm, that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for purposes that aid military and warfare.

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Two ideas for social media platforms to protect users who are receiving targeted abuse.

A journalist for another publication just rang me up asking about what can be done in India for addressing online abuse against the LGBTQI community. I really don’t have community specific solutions, but I do feel that there are two product changes that social media platforms can make in order to provide users with agency to protect themselves against targeted abuse online:

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The real problem with AI fakery

As we hurtle towards India’s Deep Fakes Elections, I write in today’s Time of India about the risk of 2024 being India’s Deep Fake Elections. A few points:

1. The rise of deep fakes presents both exciting and concerning implications for entertainment and societal discourse. From resurrecting iconic stars in movies, and having your favorite singers sing songs they never did, to enabling multi-language political campaigns, the technology’s potential is profound.

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Digital Payments mess: On the impact of recurring payments and tokenisation

I spoke with Suprita Anupam of Inc42 for a story he did on the impact of the Reserve Bank of India’s recurring payments and tokenisation on consumers and businesses. It’s a thoroughly researched article, and I highly recommend reading it.

My comments on the issue:

  • Recurring transactions, both Indian and global, fail often: “Both as a consumer and as a business user of global digital services, I’ve found that recurring transactions fail often. We’ve also had situations where some global services no longer accept Indian credit cards, post the RBI guidelines related to recurring payments, as well as the tokenisation guidelines. As a consumer, I have had to re-enter my credit card details and enable payments for a few Indian services as well, and that’s an inconvenience I wish I didn’t have to deal with.
  • Lack of a proper consultation process creates such issues: “The problem I have with the Reserve Bank of India is that they don’t appear to take into consideration the impact of their regressive regulations on merchants and consumers, and the increasing inconvenience this leads to. There was no impact assessment, no public consultation: just a diktat with a deadline, which eventually got pushed repeatedly because of lack of feasibility.
  • Why only credit cards? We also have to take into account that the RBI has enforced these guidelines on credit cards, which have better customer service, fraud detection and accountability, and yet they’ve failed to do anything to enforce accountability in case of UPI, especially in terms of fraud detection and prevention. There’s a saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In case of the RBI, they broke something that was working — credit card payments– and have failed to fix something that is crying out loud for regulatory intervention — UPI.”