Students, journalists and other professionals in Albania are using artificial intelligence as an aid in their daily work, but with the technological advantages come new concerns about misuse.
At the beginning of October, a video with erotic content circulated massively on the mobile phones of Albanians and through publication in the tabloid media. The video became viral due to the resemblance of the girl appearing in it to one of the most popular showbiz characters in Albania, Luana Vjollca.
Through several posts on social networks, Vjollca denounced the video as slander and denied that she was the protagonist.
But the speculation ended only after technology experts analyzed the video and assessed that it had been manipulated through deepfake technology produced through artificial intelligence.
"This technology can not only create manipulated videos, but also clone a person's voice with incredible accuracy," explained Blerim Gjeladini, representative of the "Terra" technology company, in a post on Facebook.
Artificial intelligence began as an academic discipline in the middle of the last century, but gained tremendous popularity in the fall of 2022, when the company OpenAI launched ChatGPT [Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer]. Since then, ChatGPT counts over 180 million users worldwide.
Albania is no exception, where students, journalists and other professionals are using artificial intelligence as an aid in their daily work. However, the video episode of early October has raised concerns about the effects of technology on information manipulation.
Blerjana Bino, executive director of the Center "Science and Innovation for Development", SCiDEV, appreciates the advantages of using artificial intelligence by many professions, but also emphasizes that this tool has the risk of being used by actors who aim to misinform the public.
"I think they have a very powerful new tool at their disposal when it comes to disinformation, manipulation of information or fabricated news," Bino said.
Advantages and risks
Jesmina Sengla, a Political Science graduate student, first used ChatGPT for her thesis. She was interested to know how this artificial intelligence model could help her in her literature review.
Sengla first tested ChatGPT and found it to be very accurate for organizing material and subdividing topics. But he also found reason to worry.
"It turned out that he had practically fabricated a reference out of thin air," she said.
Ora News journalist Isa Myzyraj also says that he used ChatGPT for the first time to structure a television chronicle and was satisfied with the result.
"I gave him some data and ChatGPT advised me how to proceed to build a chronicle. But the way he advised was quite specific," he recalls.
Myzyraj does not see artificial intelligence as a threat to professional journalism, arguing that "it cannot report on the ground". But he fears using this mechanism to fabricate news.
"People involved in the fabrication and production of fake news and various smear campaigns can easily use artificial intelligence," said Myzyraj.
Professional ethics is considered a low priority for the media in Albania - especially for digital ones - raising concerns about the spread of fake news, driven by financial, political and criminal interests, says the 2022 report of the US Department of State to Human Rights.
Because fake news is created to spread virally on social media, this makes it attractive for republishing online by media outlets that rank for "bait" headlines and clickbait versus verified facts and in-depth information.
Under these conditions, Bino from SCiDEV emphasizes that media education should take on a primary importance in the fight against disinformation, now also with the help of ChatGPT.
"Readers should see how many sources the journalist has used or referred to in the material they are reading... And the other element is verification, to verify with other sources, if there are points of view that support or oppose it," she added.
For Koloreto Cukali, head of the Albanian Media Council, the problem is not artificial intelligence, but the way it will be used.
" Even the ethical violations that will occur, will occur from human hands and not from technology ," he concluded.