Abuse Material
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Emerging Concern: AI’s Potential to Generate Disturbing Amounts of Realistic Child Exploitative Material

2 Mins read

Photo was created by Webthat using MidJourney

The IWF Raises Alarming Concerns

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) warns that artificial intelligence (AI) could be utilized to produce “unprecedented quantities” of realistic child sexual abuse material. The IWF has already come across “astoundingly realistic” AI-generated images that closely resemble real ones, making them indistinguishable to many people. These distressing findings highlight the urgent need to address this issue to safeguard internet safety and protect children online.

Realism Poses Challenges in Identification

As the IWF investigates web pages featuring AI-generated images, some reported by the public, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discern when real children are in danger due to the images’ striking realism. This development raises concerns about the effectiveness of current safety measures in combating the exploitation of children.

Urgent Appeal to Government Action

Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the IWF, calls upon Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to prioritize this issue during Britain’s upcoming global AI summit. The potential for criminals to produce large quantities of lifelike child sexual abuse imagery using AI demands immediate attention and concerted efforts to address the growing threat to internet safety and the well-being of children.

Escalating Risks as AI Advances

While AI-generated images of this nature are illegal in the UK, the IWF cautions that the rapid progress and increased accessibility of AI technology may soon outpace existing legislation. This growing risk is being taken “extremely seriously” by the National Crime Agency (NCA), as it could strain law enforcement resources, potentially prolonging the identification and protection of real children in need.

Regulatory Measures in Focus

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasizes the importance of discussing regulatory “guardrails” during the forthcoming global AI summit. These measures aim to mitigate future risks posed by AI technology. Government officials have already engaged with major industry players, including Google and OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, to address the pressing concerns surrounding AI-generated child sexual abuse material.

Offenders Exploit AI and Circumvent Safety Measures

The IWF has discovered an online “manual” created by offenders to assist others in using AI to produce even more realistic abuse images. These manuals provide instructions on bypassing safety measures implemented by image generators. Just as text-based generative AI, like ChatGPT, has limitations and safety protocols, image tools such as DALL-E 2 and Midjourney also aim to restrict their software’s ability to create certain content and block inappropriate inputs.

OpenAI employs automated and human monitoring systems to prevent misuse, but the exploitation of AI technology necessitates the adaptation of platforms to prevent the proliferation of harmful content.


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