I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: parenting kids in the digital age is hard. It’s also full of pitfalls that most of us couldn’t have imagined when we first considered starting a family. Thanks to the advent of artificial intelligence, those pitfalls are getting steeper and deeper, and many parents may want to consider how they share family photos online.
A terrifying new ad by telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom is driving this point home in a super-dramatic way. The ad definitely uses “shock value,” to get its message across, but sometimes you have to shock people into admitting reality. Change is hard: none of us wants to admit that our past actions no longer work in the present, but here we are. As the ad points out, just about anyone with access to our kids’ photographs can use AI to steal their identities or worse, either now or in the future.
As an example, the haunting ad portrays the story of Ella, a nine-year-old girl whose parents have shared plenty of innocent photos of her online. We see how AI is used to create an older, completely deepfaked Ella based on just one photo of her from age nine. The fake adult Ella moves and talks just like a real person, has a passport and a credit history, and is pretty much indistinguishable from an actual human adult. She tells her horrified parents that their uninhibited postings of her online when she was a child has had some unimaginable consequences thanks to AI and internet strangers. They are some of the worst outcomes a parent can imagine, from identity theft to the creation of child sex abuse material.