BEING a stock photo model has its pros and cons. On the plus side, you turn up, pull a face, point at a thing and you get some easy cash for not very much work.

The downside though is that you have absolutely no say over where that picture eventually ends up. Think of poor Samantha Ovens, who ended up on the Guardian’s agony aunt page a few years back under the headline, “I fantasise about group sex with old, obese men.”

Reader, as she made clear in an interview shortly after, she didn't.

The use of stock photos is pretty widespread in politics. Those images of clean looking happy families you see in most manifestos have almost certainly been bought in.

You can tell by the teeth that they're not British.

But it looks like the days of Chad from Oregon helping to illustrate the Scottish Lib Dem plans to curb flytipping are probably coming to an end.

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Earlier this month, New Zealand’s National Party started using AI-generated people on their campaign ads.

They asked one of the AI image generators to come up with a picture of some lads robbing a jewellery store, a couple of nurses, and a victim of crime, gazing sorrowfully out of a window.

However, they didn't tell anybody. What gave them away was the slightly weird gigantic eyes, unreal skin and dodgy balaclavas.

When asked they admitted it, telling New Zealand’s Newshub they were doing so responsibly and it was “an innovative way to drive our social media.”

The Herald:

It’s also been used in the States in a much more aggressive manner, with the Republicans sharing a video showing a number of different AI-generated dystopian scenarios that might occur if Joe Biden is re-elected.

When you look closely, the images aren’t great, but they’re probably better than the images AI was creating just a few weeks ago, and they’re going to get substantially better in the weeks and months ahead.

We are so very close to being in a place where it is impossible to tell if pictures, videos and audio recordings are real or fake.

Given that we're a year away from a general election, that's starting to focus the mind of our political leaders

Earlier this month, Prof Michael Wooldridge, director of foundation AI research at the UK’s Alan Turing Institute, told the Guardian: “We have elections coming up in the UK and the US and we know … that generative AI can produce disinformation on an industrial scale.”

The question now is over regulation.

Last week, Rishi Sunak met the chief executives of Google DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic AI to discuss “the risks of the technology, ranging from disinformation and national security, to existential threats.”

“Existential threat” is a hell of a phrase to see in a No 10 press release.

But given that OpenAI’s chief executive, Sam Altman, recently called for the creation of an international body similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which regulates atomic weapons, it's maybe something we need to think about.

AI is both incredibly exciting and absolutely terrifying.

Over the weekend, we learned about a new antibiotic created by AI to kill a deadly species of superbug.

The ramifications of this are astounding, revolutionary even. We could be talking about the discovery of new drugs and treatments massively accelerated.

Given how important the life sciences sector is to Scotland, this could be a huge opportunity.

On Thursday, Holyrood will debate a Scottish Government motion on “trustworthy, ethical and inclusive Artificial Intelligence.”

The debate was prompted after Labour’s Martin Whitfield asked in parliament about using AI to scrutinise government legislation.

Confirming that time had been set aside, Cabinet Minister George Adam told the chamber: ”With any use of AI, we would have to ensure that the public, politicians and stakeholders agree and are aware of that and, more importantly, that we do not find ourselves all replaced in some kind of dystopian future.”

Labour’s Daniel Johnson chipped in: “Who says that we haven’t already been replaced?”

Before they do get replaced, our MSPs do...

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