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Germany's Far Right Extremists Are Using AI Images To Incite Hatred

Bogus images of angry dark-skinned men and bloodied blond women were quickly flagged as fakes, but the quality of the artificial intelligence is only bound to improve.

Germany's Far Right Extremists Are Using AI Images To Incite Hatred

One of the AI-generated fake pictures posted by Norbert Kleinwaechter on his social media accounts.

Renate Mattar

You have seen those AI-generated images circulating on the Internet in the last few weeks: Pope Francis in a puffy white parka, Emmanuel Macron in the mud, Donald Trump being forcibly arrested… Those images went viral. Such pranks, of course, might seem mostly harmless, and have been quickly flagged as fakes.

However, AI-generated images will no doubt be used for more dangerous purposes.

In Germany this week, we already saw it taken further than an innocent joke. Norbert Kleinwaechter, a deputy chairman from the far-right party Alles für Deutschland (AfD), recently posted on his Twitter account, several AI-generated images: one depicted a young blond woman, her face covered in blood, another showed a climate activist screaming.

Yet one particular image stands out, with an inscription — “No more refugees!”


In it, we see a group of angry and aggressive-looking, dark-haired bearded men, shouting. Kleinwaechter did not reveal that the images were not actual photographs and that the people were not real — though Twitter users rather quickly pointed out that they were bogus, noting certain details such as distorted faces in the background.

Point of view v. Reality 

Kleinwaechter declared in a video that he wants to continue to use AI images, explaining that the migrant picture is, to his opinion, appropriate, even if it is a fake: “We have a hoard of migrants in the streets of Berlin, and they make the city unsafe and yell.”

Clearly, AI is helping them to spread their own perspective on immigration, as far of reality as they could be.

The AfD party also denies any attempt at disinformation, and explains to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that those are “symbolic images” that they use from “image banks.” One AfD member said their movement is “much indebted” to this new form of technology, as it will help them to “generate images based on stereotypes.”

One of the fake AI-generated images AfD is spreading

Twitter

AI keeps improving

Joachim Paul, an AfD deputy, declared in Freilicht, the blog of the far-right magazine “Identitarian Movement”, that he wants to use AI for the purpose of right-wing politics.

With the arrival of artificial intelligence, AfD has a tool to “make the world the way they present it: menacing, scary, and full of violence,” writes the German digital magazine Bell Tower. Even if for now, AI-generated images are still often recognizable as fakes, it won't stay that way for much longer.

As AI gets better at imitating reality, extremists will be able to tap into a growing set of digital tools to manipulate reality. Der Standard quotes German journalist Sascha Lobo warning against the risk of election manipulation, which goes beyond fake images. Lobo says other terrain being explored is AI-powered audio, which could generate a close imitation of someone's voice to say just about anything.

Germany knows well that, as much as images, words have a long history of inciting the masses.

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Society

Are Police Dogs Actually Throwing Officers Off The Scent?

In 2020, Salt Lake City abruptly terminated its K9 unit for pursuing and apprehending suspects. Not much changed. In fact, a lot of the evidence around using police dogs is sketchy, and the practice has worrying connections with racial terror.

A black man in a padded suit is bitten by a military working dog

A demonstration for students by Senior Airman Antoine Carr and military working dog Beta.

Peter Andrey Smith

The 911 call came early the morning of April 24, 2020: A man was reportedly at the home where his estranged wife lived, violating the protective order she had against him. Police arrived, spotlighting the backyard with flashlights. Jeffery Ryans, a 36-year-old Black man, stood outside smoking a cigarette.

According to body camera footage, officer Nickolas Pearce ordered him to the ground and warned that if Ryans didn’t comply, he’d release his dog, K9 Tuco. As Pearce and the other arriving officers approached and Ryans dropped to the ground, Pearce commanded the dog to attack: “Hit! Hit!”

“I’m on the ground,” Ryans shouted. “Why are you biting me?”

He continued yelling and screaming, the footage shows. When police cuffed Ryans, face down on the ground, Pearce urged Tuco to release its grip.

Ryans’ arrest was largely unreported until, months later and in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests, The Salt Lake Tribune published a story, along with the video footage. The original 911 call, it turned out, was less than straightforward. According to a civilian review board report, Ryans had erroneously believed the restraining order had been lifted; his estranged wife had invited him to the house; a child called 911.

More recently, on July 25, 2023, a police officer in Ohio in the U.S. released a dog on a black truck driver who was trying to surrender. But research has cast serious doubt on whether police dogs are actually effective.

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