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Watermarks aren’t the silver bullet for AI misinformation

Photo by Demetrius Freeman / The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s executive order on artificial intelligence is a first-of-its-kind action from the government to tackle some of the technology’s greatest challenges — like how to identify if an image is real or fake.

Among a myriad of other demands, the order, signed Monday, calls for a new set of government-led standards on watermarking AI-generated content. Like watermarks on photographs or paper money, digital watermarks help users distinguish between a real object and a fake one and determine who owns it.

It’s a seemingly simple solution that has support from the White House and the tech industry. Watermarking technology has promise. But it’s not infallible, and experts fear that it won’t be enough on its own.

Many of the…

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