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Videos using AI are popping up on YouTube. How is YouTube responding?

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Videos made with artificial intelligence are getting more convincing and more common on YouTube. So the company says it has a new tool to keep track of those videos. It asks creators to report when they use AI to generate realistic-looking videos. NPR's Neda Ulaby asked some experts if that's enough.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Self-reporting is a great first step, says Ben Colman. He used to work for Google, which now owns YouTube, but he says it's a little like asking bank robbers...

BEN COLMAN: Before they rob a bank, are you going to rob a bank?

ULABY: Now, most people, he admits, do not rob banks.

COLMAN: But in a world where there's over 100,000 tools that can either create a deepfake face or generative audio faking a voice or a video, it's not good enough to ask people to admit when they're breaking the rules.

ULABY: Colman runs a company called Reality Defenders (ph). Recently, it worked with Wired magazine to find videos on YouTube made with AI aimed towards children - like this one.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ULABY: This cartoon was posted by a company in India with more than a million subscribers. The videos are promoted as educational, and the scale of production is enormous. This one was posted before disclosure requirements were put in place.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AI-GENERATED VOICE: Red color.

ULABY: But why would you bother, asks Dominic Sellitto. He's a professor at the University of Buffalo (ph) School of Management.

DOMINIC SELLITTO: You know what? Clicking this box will hurt me in the algorithm - right? - so therefore, I'm just going to chance it, because what's going to happen?

ULABY: In a statement, YouTube told NPR what could happen would be suspension, content removal and other penalties. And it said YouTube might label some videos as synthetic on its own. Dominic Sellitto says he cannot help but compare this approach to the rigor with which YouTube has contained copyright infringements - songs, videos that get posted without permission are quickly identified using software and taken down. People can use AI to make fabulous, cool things, he's quick to add. But companies will need more than the honor system to keep its dangers in check.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF GALT MACDERMOT SONG, "COME AWAY DEATH") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.