AI Writing

The 13 Societal Costs of Undetectable AI Content

No one can doubt the fact that AI has opened up new frontiers in content creation – everything from text to images, to audio and videos and much more. And while AI offers unprecedented opportunities to automate tasks and give voice (or art) to our creativity, there’s also growing concern about the societal costs of AI that’s undetectable. 

No one can doubt the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) has opened up new frontiers in content creation. Using increasingly sophisticated algorithms, AI-powered tools are making it easier than ever for creators to generate high-quality content at scale, from text and images to audio and videos to even more. In fact, its ability to generate human-like writing and other types of materials has given rise to undetectable AI content, making it difficult to tell the difference between AI and human-generated work.

But while undetectable AI tools and content offer unprecedented opportunities to automate tasks and give voice (or art) to content creators everywhere, there's also growing concern about its impact on society. And rightfully so - try to pass off AI-generated outputs as human content can have some serious and far-reaching consequences.

In this article, we're going to explore the 13 societal costs of undetectable AI content.

What Is Undetectable AI Content?

Undetectable AI content often refers to AI-generated text that's so similar to human-written content that search engines, AI content detectors, and the average person have a hard time telling the difference. Gone are the days of producing strictly robotic-sounding content - today's undetectable tools can convincingly mimic human writing styles and sentence structures, But it's important to be aware that it's not just AI-written text that can come off as human-like - it's also images, videos, and other types of content.

With all of the skepticism surrounding the use of AI these days, taking steps to make content undetectable can be great for human writers who want to avoid any false accusations regarding the originality of their work. But unfortunately, this isn't the most common use of this technology.

In fact, there are people out there using undetectable AI tools and content for more unethical purposes.

The Societal Costs of Undetectable AI Content

Undetectable AI writing and other types of content can have significant and impactful implications for trust building, credibility and ethics in the age we live in. Here are a few of the costs that we must consider to society as a whole, and what they mean for us moving forward from the information age to the age of AI.

1. Deepfakes and Synthetic Media

Deepfakes (a portmanteau of the words "deep learning" and "fake") are realistic, AI-generated videos that alter a person's expression or voice or even swap faces with others. They can make politicians look like they've said things they didn't say, or were in places where they had never been. These types of videos are already creating controversy for their ability to deceive and manipulate people.

Then there are AI-powered text generators like ChatGPT. They use advanced algorithms to create convincing-looking news articles, academic papers and blog posts that can mimic human writing styles and be attributed to real-world authors, regardless of their involvement.

Although both types of technology have uses in real-world applications (such as using deepfakes to make biographical films of a character's life throughout the ages, or using them to restore classic films or outdated-looking CGI), our inability to distinguish AI- from human-generated content at first glance can undermine trust and comes with numerous risks.

2. Identity Theft and Fraud

With the ability to generate undetectable deepfakes and synthetic texts, criminals can now use undetectable content to weaponize texts, videos and photos to commit identity theft and fraud. For example, a deepfake video could feature a CEO announcing a fake corporate merger. This could lead to stock market manipulations and the vast selling or buying of stock, which could in turn result in disaster for the markets.

Then there are AI-generated emails. They may seem harmless, but by changing AI-written content to more human-like text, scammers can make business emails look like they came from executives. This can result in employees willingly sharing passwords or other security credentials that can compromise the integrity of the business or organization.

3. Misinformation and Disinformation

While they sound similar, misinformation and disinformation are two separate - but still concerning - terms. Let's start with misinformation. Misinformation refers to false or misleading information that is shared without the intent to deceive. It's likely to spread from misunderstandings, a misinterpretation of data, or incorrect reporting.

Disinformation, on the other hand, involves the deliberate creation of content that's designed to manipulate others. It tends to be more organized than misinformation, and may involve the use of fake social media accounts, doctored images, or fake videos.

So, how does this apply to AI-generated writing and other types of content? Well, everything from deepfake videos to AI-generated articles can spread misinformation and disinformation, which can distort public perception on critical issues within a society.

4. Emotional and Psychological Impact

Beyond the critical impacts of spreading misinformation and disinformation, making AI content undetectable can have an emotional and psychological impact on society as well. For example, deepfakes that manipulate personal videos can cause a great deal of distress and shatter reputations. Using AI-generated content creation, someone could doctor a video to make it seem like a CEO is admitting to criminal activity. This wouldn't just have a negative psychological impact on the individual, but also has the potential to destroy their reputation and that of their company.

Undetectable AI content can also have an impact on a smaller scale. Using AI to generate fake social media comments or reviews can have some serious effects on one's mental health, particularly among more vulnerable populations.

5. The Erosion of Trust and Credibility

As AI continues to become more sophisticated and harder to detect, the public's trust in digital media as a whole is starting to erode. People are becoming more and more skeptical of the content they come across online, which can extend to institutions and the media, further dividing society into fractured groups.

As a whole, sooner or later society will need to deal with the implications that creating deceptive content poses to us. AI in and of itself is neutral, but creating content with transparency and accountability will be paramount as people challenge the ethical issues surrounding using AI in all of its forms.

6. Polarization and Echo Chambers

One of the more sinister side effects of AI-generated content is its potential to amplify and irritate already inflamed social and political divisions. Today, algorithms can create content that appeals to specific political and social ideologies, further reinforcing beliefs and pushing individuals into their own familiar echo chambers.

Over time, a human author may show their biases through their writing, but AI has the ability to appear to seem impartial, which can lead to misinformation or a slant that is not entirely accurate. This further polarizes the public which makes it even harder for people to find common ground or engage in constructive debate.

7. Economic Disparities

It may not seem like it on the surface, but undetectable AI-generated content can also exacerbate existing economic disparities. Imagine a product launched in a country where undetectable AI writing tools are cheap and readily available. Now imagine its competitor that comes from an economically-disadvantaged area, and has to rely on strictly human-written text.

The difference here is that the online retailer in the former country can use AI to create human-like content in the form of positive reviews or compelling product descriptions faster than their competitor can write or collect them. This can give them a significant head start in a competitive market.

As you can see, unequal access to AI can create a snowball effect, widening the gap between different groups in terms of those who have and those who don't have access to such tools.

8. Exploitation and Societal Surveillance

It sounds rather dystopian, but AI content can be used to exploit individuals in ways that society as a whole simply isn't prepared for. Imagine targeted advertising taken to an extreme with ads that aren't just tailored to your demographics, but are created on-the-fly. They can use AI to exploit your emotional state, detected through the posts you write and share on social media, or your interactions on other third party sites.

This practice, is known as “surveillance capitalism”. It involves corporations and governments alike potentially misusing AI's capabilities for ongoing data collection, refinement, and analysis to manipulate citizens into consuming more and more.

9. AI's Impact on Journalism and Academia

We've already seen the beginnings of what can happen when undetectable AI tools are used in academic, legal and journalistic settings. Fake research articles, court cases and data, and reports can pass initial scrutiny, even from experts in their field. In addition, deepfake “interviews” could be used to create a scandal or reveal misinformation that could potentially damage reputations and manipulate public opinion.

Because we hold the law, journalism, and academia in such high regard in terms of their status as bastions of credibility and the truth, AI has the potential to damage their credibility and authenticity. This can lead to a society that's not only divided and fragmented, but inherently skeptical of expertise, even when it comes from authoritative sources.

10. Loss of Employment

It's no secret what can happen when profits are put over people. In terms of AI technology, people are already losing their jobs in fields that were traditionally reliant on human creativity and skill. Journalists, writers, graphic designers, video editors and many more are seeing themselves go head-to-head with AI content generators that can produce similar work at a fraction of the time and cost.

Automation is by no means a new concern, but it often leads to economic shifts rather than outright job loss. AI turns this notion on its head, and the transition can be quite jarring and painful for many, causing increased income inequality.

11. Loss of Creativity

Although not as dire and foreboding as creating scandalous deepfake videos and upsetting elections or other institutions, the widespread prevalence and use of AI-generated content can have implications for human creativity as well. Now that AI tools can easily generate art, music and writing, people will lean more into these technologies to give them exactly what they want at the expense of developing their own creative skills.

Over time, this overreliance on AI can create a sort of “creative atrophy”, where the next generation is even less capable of innovative thinking and outside the box problem solving – skills that are vital for society to progress.

12. Cultural and Ethical Homogenization

Because AI language models are trained on large and diverse datasets, the content they generate can trend toward broad but shallow understandings of culture and ethics. This can create a type of cultural and ethical homogenization, where local traditions and minority perspectives get lost in the shuffle of content that is crafted to have mass appeal.

13. Legal Challenges

We may not realize it in our day to day lives, but undetectable AI-generated content has already created a whole host of legal quagmires and unforeseen challenges. For example, who is responsible when an AI generates defamatory content? Traditional legal frameworks were never meant to be applied in these complex cases, which in turn creates uncertainties and blatant miscarriages of justice.

What We Can Do to Avoid the Pitfalls of Undetectable AI Content

So what can we do about these issues and how can we prevent society as a whole from falling into these traps? At this point, the rapid development of AI content generation tools are far outstripping our capacity to rein it in. Although today's AI content detection tools like Originality.AI can go quite far in distinguishing AI-generated text from original content, AI continues to evolve at an unheard-of pace. Governments have floated the idea of regulation, but trying to enforce laws around AI-generated content is complex and needs the cooperation of a wide range of local, national, and international groups.

When we consider the sheer potential for AI to lend a hand toward identity theft, fraud, misinformation, lack of trust and other serious societal challenges, it's easy to say that something, anything must be done to circumvent it. Although technical advances, public awareness and governmental involvement each has their own specific method of trying to tackle the issue, there's one thing we cannot do as a society, which is to simply sit back and see how things unfold.

With this in mind, it's vital that society as a whole take a proactive stance on combating and mitigating these risks by facing them head-on. By leveraging all of the tools and expertise we have at our disposal, including AI content detectors, legal, technological, educational, and even government solutions, we'll be able to tame the unwieldy beast that is AI and turn it into a tool used for positive gains and growth.

Sherice Jacob

Plagiarism Expert Sherice Jacob brings over 20 years of experience to digital marketing as a copywriter and content creator. With a finger on the pulse of AI and its developments, she works extensively with Originality.AI to help businesses and publishers get the best returns from their Content.

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