Fighting The Deepfakes: Congressman Eric Swalwell Puts Up AI Protections With LA Tech Firm For Reelection Campaign – Deadline

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A frequent target of harsh Republican attacks, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA)  is putting up the digital barricades for his reelection campaign.

On the ballot in November like every member of the House of Representatives, the six-term California Congressman has teamed up with the technology services of to protect himself against AI deepfakes and other manipulations.

“Ensuring the integrity of our democratic process is of paramount importance,” Rep. Swalwell said Tuesday of the realities of running for office in the 21st century. “Embracing cutting-edge tools such as to prevent deepfakes is not just an option; it’s a necessity in safeguarding elections against fraud and misinformation,” the ranking member of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Congressional Subcommittee stated.

Long an advocate on the power of technology in the contemporary political arena, Swalwell is the first elected official to partner with, but he likely won’t be the last.

“AI is a potent technology,” Swalwell added in what might be the understatement of the decade. “If used irresponsibly, it can hijack the likeness and voice of public figures to undermine their credibility and spread disinformation. will mitigate the risks of this happening to me.”

Developed by the Randy Saaf, Octavio Herrera, Fazri Zubair and Noah Edelman founded Play Cubed, essentially watermarks content to halt AI cloning or siphoning.

“We are proud to be working with Rep. Swalwell’s campaign,” Play Cubed CEO Saaf told Deadline today. “We think our technology can be an effective tool in the fight against AI fakes during this important election year.

“Deepfakes can also make it easier for our adversaries to masquerade as public figures and either spread misinformation or undermine their credibility,” said Swalwell at a December 12, 2023 House committee hearing on AI.

The session came just a year after ChatGPT went public and few weeks after President Joe Biden signed his comprehensive Executive Order 14110 on guidelines and guardrails for AI development and use for the federal government. Building on that, last week, Vice President Kamala Harris and Office of Management and Budget released “binding requirements “on three fronts: Strengthening AI Governance, Advancing Responsible AI Innovation, and Managing Risks.”

The very real risks poised in this year’s sure to be bitterly-fought election were addressed directly by the New Hampshire state House on March 29 with the advancement of a bill forcing full disclosure of the use of AI by candidate and supporters in political advertising. In January, the Granite State got a direct dose of how toxic AI can be when voters received robocalls seemingly from Biden telling them not to cast a ballot in New Hampshire’s primary — hint, they were not from POTUS.  

Having worked with the likes of Lionsgate, CBS, ESPN and the NBA over the years, the Play Cubed team reached out to Rep. Swalwell following his December 2023 remarks on the potency of AI-generated deepfakes, I hear. Upon learning about their tech, the Congressman signed up, so to speak, for his own campaign in the Golden State’ s 14th District.  

Of course, AI and its uses were a significant part of WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes and negotiations last year as the guilds sought to save jobs for their members.

With the protection provisions that the scribes and the actors now have in place in their current contracts, AI has emerged as a major factor in the current ongoing talks between the AMPTP and IATSE and the Teamsters. In the past few weeks, as those latest labor negotiations are ongoing, a number of AI companies have sat down with the ever-cost cutting studios or streamers over further incorporating the tech into movies and TV series.

What form that incorporation will take is TBD.

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