Judge Scott Schlegel: TikTok’s New Deepfake Feature – Symphony Avatars

Extract from Judge Scott Schlegel’s article “TikTok’s New Deepfake Feature – Symphony Avatars”

Have y’all seen the new announcement from TikTok on AI? TikTok recently announced the introduction of Symphony Avatars, which allows users to create personalized avatars. While TikTok asserts that its avatars will be labeled “AI Generated” to distinguish them from real footage, the broader implications of this technology cannot be ignored.

The introduction of deepfakes on a platform as massive as TikTok means that this technology will become more sophisticated and accessible to everyone in a very short period of time. This democratization of deepfake technology that costs nothing for users to create convincing avatars will also result in an increased public skepticism towards video content. This is particularly concerning from my perspective, where the authenticity of evidence is paramount.

In a recent article, I discussed the potential need for new rules in light of Apple’s announcements regarding AI integration into their products, including its new CleanUp feature that allows its users to alter photos from their phones. You can read more about that HERE.

Given the rise of such technologies, the time to take a hard look at modifying rules related to lawyers’ duties to the Court maybe sooner rather than later. While I am generally cautious about quickly modifying rules, believing most current ones are sufficient to handle the new world of generative AI, one area that might need re-evaluation are rules like ABA Model Rule 3.3 (a)(3), and its state equivalents, which prohibit lawyers from knowingly offering false evidence. However, in the age of deepfakes, I would suggest that we strengthen this rule as it relates to photographic, video, and audio evidence.

Read more here