Letters to the Editor

Letter: Alaska’s chance to lead

Imagine the day when you receive an anonymous message: “I hate to be the one to tell you …” Attached is video footage of your partner stepping out on you. What would you do? Would you stay calm?

Now swap yourself out for an impulsive teenager. Someone working on their sobriety. Someone struggling with depression. What might they do? Something they couldn’t take back?

Now change roles, and it’s your partner receiving a video of you. Do they believe you when you deny it?

Next imagine the day when you scroll across a video of Gov. Mike Dunleavy announcing the worst: Russian ships are on the way and Russian planes are in the air. Missiles could be next. Do you turn on the TV to double-check? Does everyone? How many have to believe before someone gets hurt?

Artificial intelligence deepfake technology makes these scenarios an impending reality, not just for high-profile targets, but for everyday people. With the rapid evolution of AI technology and its increasing availability to the public, even the lowest level of internet troll will soon have the ability to produce dangerous content. Soon as in months, not years. It’s not a matter of if this technology is going to cause a disaster, but when, and how bad.

The hazard posed by AI technology is clear, growing and agreed upon almost universally by experts. As usual, legislators are dragging their feet on the issue, but with a technology that is developing faster than even the most bullish predictions, that is not an acceptable course of action. It shouldn’t take a 9/11 or Chernobyl-scale disaster to prompt regulation, but unfortunately, that possibility has not been ruled out.  Alaska has the opportunity to do just that. Unlike national politics, the big tech lobby doesn’t hold large influence in the halls of Alaska government. We have the chance to enact legislation that could serve as a model for the rest of the country, or at least mitigate the hazards of AI within our own state.

To that end, it’s time to label deepfake technology what it is — a tool for terrorism and harassment — and to attach the commensurate penalties for its misuse. That’s the bare minimum. I would also suggest putting plans in place for a day when we may not be able to rely on technology as heavily as we do right now. Alaskans have a heritage of fending for themselves, and should be prepared to do so again, if the worst happens.


I wish I were exaggerating the danger, but this is no longer science fiction. This is a rapidly approaching reality. Right now, Alaska still has a chance to get out ahead of it. So let’s be smart, let’s be proactive and let’s lead.

— Dan Skarzynski


Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.