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Former Google CEO Urges Social Media to Verify Users, Block VPNs, and Watermark AI Deepfakes to Combat “Misinformation”

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Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has penned an opinion piece in which he presented his “6-point” plan for combating what he has decided to consider election “disinformation.”

Some of Schmidt’s ideas include blocking VPNs and “authenticating” people behind every social media account, and he would like US legislators, regulators, and (tech) companies to heed his recommendations – “before it’s too late.”

By no means does Schmidt’s choice of alarmist vocabulary end there. In the article, published by the MIT Technology Review (that was once dedicated to technology and sciences behind it, rather than being used as a sounding board for political initiatives), he talks about the upcoming year as one of “seismic” political shifts, and just in general, “the biggest election year in history” with democracies “facing a historic test worldwide.”

That’s Schmidt’s opinion, and while he mentions a number of elections to be held around the world, it’s really the presidential ballot in the US, and the campaign process leading up to it, that interests him.

Schmidt sees the specter of “disinformation” everywhere in the contest of elections, and technology-wise, seems to focus on the trouble with AI (as in, AI powering creation of deepfakes), and, no surprise, on the social media.

Here’s what this now prominent member of the unelected “philanthropy-focused” elites that nonetheless clearly want a say (“give recommendations”) in policy-making, states should be done.

Firstly, social media users need to be verified and authenticated as humans in order to be “held accountable” by both the platforms, and the authorities. He is careful to add that this doesn’t mean “divulging” people’s identities – at least, not to everybody. But evidently yes to social platforms (if their policies are violated), and to law enforcement (if laws are violated).

Next, Schmidt wants these platforms to turn into “all-seeing eyes” (if they haven’t already). “Know every source. Knowing the provenance of the content and the time it entered the network can improve trust and safety (…) While VPN traffic may deter detection, platforms can step up efforts to improve identification of VPNs,” he writes.

He then refers to President Biden’s (controversial) AI executive order, to call for “identifying deepfakes” – an idea that brings up fears of censorship of memes or parody content.

Schmidt also wants companies to “filter advertisers” by sharing a “safe list of advertisers across platforms,” and to rely more on humans to “help” (weed out “misinformation”).

Lastly, the former Google CEO of ten years wants more money poured into “research.”

“For all these approaches to work at scale, we’ll require long-term engagement, starting now. My philanthropic group is working to help create free, open-source testing frameworks for many AI trust and safety groups,” Schmidt revealed.

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