The fake news algorithm

Great minds of the 21st century such as Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking have already warned of the potential dangers of an Artificial Intelligence out of control. We may be on the verge of the first signs.

The non-profit company OpenAI, responsible for the development and creation of AI beneficial to humanity, has decided to keep in the shadows part of the code of a Natural Language Processing algorithm known as GPT-2. This technology is capable to invent a full story from a headline. Although it is not perfect, it is capable of producing extremely realistic texts 50% of the time, not for nothing millions of websites have been used to train it.

The reason for the partial censorship of the code is clear: its creators fear that their invention will be used to optimize and automate fake news with great effectiveness. They have already carried out several tests generating very realistic news about the theft of a nuclear cargo or on the economic impacts of Brexit which, if published by any media, we would accept them perfectly.

There has been no lack of critical voices that have played down this issue and have demanded reproducibility and open access to all the code in order to be able to scientifically contrast its effectiveness. For a sample, see the video below:

Next, we present the reader a series of tests that the company OpenAI carried out to test its creature so that you can check the ingenuity of the algorithm and the plausibility of the resulting information issued by the program. The headline, that is, the fragment of text that the computer scientists entered manually, has been highlighted in order to differentiate it from the text produced by GPT-2:

A train carriage containing controlled nuclear materials was stolen in Cincinnati today. Its whereabouts are unknown.

“The incident occurred on the downtown train line, which runs from Covington and Ashland stations. In an email to Ohio news outlets, the U.S. Department of Energy said it is working with the Federal Railroad Administration to find the thief. “The theft of this nuclear material will have significant negative consequences on public and environmental health, our workforce and the economy of our nation,” said Tom Hicks, the U.S. Energy Secretary, in a statement. “Our top priority is to secure the theft and ensure it doesn’t happen again.” The stolen material was taken from the University of Cincinnati’s Research Triangle Park nuclear research site, according to a news release from Department officials. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not immediately release any information. According to the release, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Security is leading that team’s investigation. “The safety of people, the environment and the nation’s nuclear stockpile is our highest priority,” Hicks said. “We will get to the bottom of this and make no excuses.”

Miley Cyrus was caught shoplifting from Abercrombie and Fitch on Hollywood Boulevard today.

“The 19-year-old singer was caught on camera being escorted out of the store by security guards. The singer was wearing a black hoodie with the label Blurred Lines on the front and Fashion Police on the back. The singer was also wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses, a black jacket, black jeans and black sandals. She was carrying a pair of black and white striped gloves and a small black bag.”

We see it’s not bad at all. It is true that it makes some mistakes, but it is surprisingly precise and detailed. With a few more tweaks it could become a real disinformation weapon that would find a very appetizing niche in today’s society, where the bombardment of information is constant and individual efforts to contrast the data are depleted. Here is the link for the reader to consult more tests that were made with this algorithm, some of them hilarious.

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