Imran Khan’s Deepfake Dazzles at Online Rally From Pakistan Jail

  • Former Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to campaign in an online rally from jail.
  • The AI-generated video was part of a nearly five-hour live-streamed rally that had over 1.5 million views on YouTube.
  • This move has stirred concerns about the increasing use of AI and deepfakes in political campaigns.

Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence, used an AI-generated video to campaign for his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in the country’s upcoming general election. This potential use of AI and deepfakes could be a significant development as major elections are scheduled in countries including the U.S., India, European Union, Russia, Taiwan and others in 2024.

In the AI-powered video clip which is about four minutes long, an AI-generated voice resembling Khan’s is used, and a deepfake video of the jailed leader is briefly shown. PTI’s social media lead Jibran Ilyas said the content of the video is based on notes provided by Khan from prison and approximates a “65-70%” match of the former Prime Minister’s voice. The rally’s live stream has logged over 1.5 million views on YouTube.

The use of AI and deepfakes for political campaigns is expected to become a chief point of discussion as numerous countries approach their elections in 2024. For instance, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who plans to contest again in 2024, was interviewed by an AI clone of himself during a recent press conference.

However, the use of this technology has raised concerns in Pakistan and beyond. Pakistani digital rights activist and lawyer Nighat Dad expressed concerns about the authenticity of online content, stating that voters cannot be sure if the content they are seeing and hearing online is real or not.

What’s more, the live stream of PTI’s online campaign event was marred by several disruptions, leading to speculations and allegations of intentional throttling by the government. But the country’s information minister, Murtaza Solangi, deflected such questions to the telecom regulator or the Ministry of Information Technology.