Confusion in Colombian elections due to alleged fake audios with AI

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The favorite to win the elections in Bogotá brags about a dirty deal with pollsters and a controversial politician confesses to having bribed deputies. Alleged audios created with artificial intelligence (AI) muddy the final stretch of Colombia's local elections.

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Usually impossible to verify, The audios circulate on WhatsApp, Twitter and TikTok and are used as propaganda or alibi to distance oneself from a scandal. In the troubled river of falsifications, some candidates take the opportunity to discredit complaints against them with the mantra: "It was made with artificial intelligence."

Colombia, which will hold regional elections this Sunday, follows in the footsteps of countries such as Venezuela, Mexico and the United States, where content created with AI is already beginning to blur the boundaries between reality and digital falsifications.

"The payment and the inflation of the polls worked, the people believed it. That's going to put (Gustavo) Bolívar and me in the second round, according to the plan," one hears an impostered voice say, very similar to that of the candidate for mayor of Bogotá Carlos Fernando Galán.

Favorite in the polls to go to the runoff with the ruling party Gustavo Bolívar, The centrist candidate denied the audio: "Now with artificial intelligence they are creating my voice to say things that I have never said. It is incredible (...), it is a dirty war," Galán alleged in a video published on his X account (previously Twitter), without specifying who would be behind the piece

According to the editor of the specialized portal, Camilo Andrés García, "one could not know exactly if this is false or not." However, the robotic intonation and pauses in diction lead García to think that it is a "rustic" falsification of Galán's voice created with some digital tool.

For Juan Felipe Rodrigo, author of research on "deepfakes" — videos created with AI that reproduce a person's exact gestures and tone of voice — "this is a 'cheap fake', that is, montages that are clearly false" .

It is just a sample of what can happen later with "deepfakes", as is already happening in the United States, where earlier this year a realistic but false audio of President Joe Biden and his likely rival in the 2024 elections, Donald Trump, hurling insults at each other circulated on TikTok. Despite its poor quality, Galán's alleged audio was presented as real by several TikTok and Twitter users.

"It's suspicious, but when you hear it you feel a doubt (...) there must be people or agencies in Colombia that are testing how to do these things," says García, whowho tried to make a replica of Galán's voice by introducing samples of his interventions into an AI program which costs a dollar.

During the campaign, a dozen politicians plagued by scandals alleged in their defense that they were smear campaigns with audios supposedly made with artificial intelligence. García, however, doubts the veracity of many of these statements and maintains that it may be a "political marketing" strategy.

The candidate for mayor of Sincelejo (north) Yahir Acuña An alleged audio is heard recounting bribes given to politicians in exchange for support for their aspiration.

"The fact that it looks like my voice does not make me responsible. There are applications that simulate people's voices," he defended himself on W Radio. "Artificial intelligence works wonders. I don't remember having had those conversations," emphasized Acuña, a former parliamentarian investigated for possible links with drug traffickers.

And on Friday, 48 hours before the opening of the voting stations, the outgoing governor of the department of Quindío, Roberto Jaramillo, asked the prosecutor's office "to compare, using forensic evidence, an audio broadcast on (social) networks in which intelligence was used." artificial to clone" his voice.

The recording in which Jaramillo coordinates campaign activities with one of the candidates to succeed him—an activity prohibited in Colombia—was released by investigative journalist Daniel Coronell, who defends its veracity based on the concept of an expert in artificial intelligence. However, García specifies that "to date there is no application that detects with complete certainty whether a sound was created with AI, as is the case with images."


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