Taylor Swift Explicit AI-Generated Deepfakes Are ‘Alarming and Terrible,’ Microsoft CEO Says: ‘We Have to Act’

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has weighed in on explicit AI-generated deepfakes of Taylor Swift that have gone viral across social media this week.

In an interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, asked about the Swift images, Nadella said, “First of all, absolutely this is alarming and terrible, and so therefore yes, we have to act, and quite frankly all of us in the tech platform, irrespective of what your standing on any particular issue is — I think we all benefit when the online world is a safe world.”

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“I don’t think anyone would want an online world that is completely not safe for both for content creators and content consumers,” Nadella said in the interview. “So therefore I think it behooves us to move fast on this.”

Asked about the consequences of AI, Nadella called out “all of the guardrails that we need to place around the technology so that there’s more safe content that’s being produced. And there’s a lot to be done and a lot being done there.” The Microsoft CEO said “law enforcement and tech platforms” can work together and that “I think we can govern a lot more than… we give ourselves credit for.”

Microsoft’s own software may have played a part in the creation of the Swift fakes. The bogus images of the pop star may have originated in a group on Telegram whose users share pornographic AI-generated images of women, according to a report by 404 Media. One tool members of the group use is Microsoft Designer, a free AI-based image generator, by employing workarounds that bypass its safety mechanisms that prohibit sexually graphic content, per the report.

Separately Friday, SAG-AFTRA issued a statement condemning the Swift fake images as “upsetting, harmful and deeply concerning” and said “the development and dissemination of fake images — especially those of a lewd nature — without someone’s consent must be made illegal.”

To date, Microsoft has invested more than $13 billion in San Francisco-based OpenAI, the research organization that created the buzzy AI chatbot ChatGPT. Earlier this month, the Times filed a lawsuit against both OpenAI and Microsoft, accusing the companies of copyright infringement for allegedly using Times-owned material to train ChatGPT and claiming billions of dollars in damages.

More from Holt’s interview with Nadella is scheduled to air Tuesday, Jan. 30, on “NBC Nightly News” at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT.

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