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How teaching children could help fight the war against fake news 

Welcome to Wednesday’s Early Edition from i.

Thick black plumes of smoke bellow up into the sky, a flicker of orange at its edges. A building, just metres away, is described in the caption as the Pentagon. Blue tick Twitter accounts, set up to be easily confused as news organisations, helped the picture quickly go viral. But the image also shows a wavy road, a disjointed lamp post. It was, as we now know, generated by AI. It’s certainly not the first time such an image has been used to cause controversy and raise fresh questions over the technology. This one, however, was enough to temporarily spook the markets, causing the S&P 500 stock exchange to drop by about 0.3 per cent. It was also enough for one expert to declare that news outlets and technology companies aren’t “prepared” for what might come from these latest innovations. Is our approach to tackling fake images all wrong? And what can we do? We’ll look at the lessons being learned elsewhere, after the news.

 Today’s news, and why it matters

Police are assessing new claims that Boris Johnson may have broken lockdown rules after his ministerial diary revealed visits by friends to Chequers during the Covid pandemic. The Times reported that the suggestions of potential lockdown breaches came to light after Mr Johnson gave his diary to Government lawyers who are helping him prepare for the public inquiry into the pandemic, as revealed by i.

CCTV footage shows a police vehicle following a bike ahead of a serious collision that killed two teenagers in Cardiff and sparked a riot, despite denials of a chase. South Wales Police said they would refer themselves to the police watchdog after the crash sparked a nine-hour riot in Ely, Cardiff on Monday.

Nearly 50,000 families have been placed at risk of homelessness due to no-fault evictions since the Government pledged to abolish the device in 2019. The figures could underestimate the total number of households at risk of homelessness as they only apply to people who have reached out to their local authority for support.

TikTok is rewarding “more and more extreme behaviour” and must start taking action sooner, campaigners have said following the arrest of a teenager over a series of pranks posted online. Lawyers also told i they are dealing with an increasing number of civil and criminal cases linked to social media posts.

Open up more legal routes for asylum seekers. Fix the Brexit mess. Embrace flexible working and a four-day week. These are the thoughts of a candidate attempting to oust the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan from City Hall next year. But can you guess which party she represents? Natalie Campbell, former royal aide to the so-called ‘Fab Four’, tells i she does not do conventional politics.

An elderly woman who was hit by a motorcycle that was part of the Duchess of Edinburgh’s police escort has died after suffering major injuries. Helen Holland, 81, was struck in Earl’s Court on the afternoon of 10 May. Her son Martin said she died after sustaining “multiple broken bones and massive internal injuries”.

The problems, and potential solutions, to AI fake photos:

We are not prepared: “In a world where you can generate any kind of content in a realistic fashion with AI at scale and within minutes, you could create 200 different images of this fire from different perspectives,” Henry Ajder, an expert on deepfake images, told i. “I think it really speaks to how our information infrastructure and media infrastructure is not prepared for this AI-generated content.” Those in the know would be aware that credible news organisations have a gold tick, not a blue tick, such as the one which posted Monday’s photo of what it said was the Pentagon. But if the picture had shown a less public place, such as a village in Ukraine, for example, it would be harder for people to quickly verify. “Moving forward, it’s just not going to be possible for even well-trained eyes in a lot of cases, from the image alone, to spot a fake,” he warned. You can read the full story here. The problems with AI are obviously not confined to fake images alone. Much bigger, existential issues with the tech are already the source of political debate. As i‘s Stuart Ritchie explains in this piece, the creation of hyper-intelligent AI systems in the future could bring benefits (as also detailed here), but also threaten to ruin financial systems, accelerate arms races, and take control of the systems that govern us.

So what can we do? Ideally, social media platforms should also be finding ways of tackling these problems – partly through making it clear who can have ‘verified’ accounts. But there are some places equipping their citizens with the tools to be more savvy online. In Finland, Ian Birrell reports, children are taught critical thinking from an early age to help resist the flood of fake news and conspiracy theories. “In art classes, pupils analyse images from advertising and discuss deep-fake videos. In history, they compare Allied and Nazi wartime propaganda. In maths, they discuss the use of algorithms and abuse of statistics. In language lessons, they discover how words can be manipulated, how they can mislead and be used to sow division,” he reports. The approach has helped make Finland more resistant to fake news than any other nation in Europe, according to an annual survey of media literacy that put Britain in 11th place. “It is everyone’s responsibility to take care of their country,” Päivi Tampere, head of government strategic communications, tells him. “We can’t debunk all the falsehoods but we can try to teach people to use credible sources and recognise conspiracies.” Read the full report, and what lessons the UK could learn, here.

A screenshot of a Pentagon deepfake image that circulated online (Photo: Twitter/ John Scott-Railton)

Around the world

Florida governor Ron DeSantis is set to announce he is running for President in 2024 during a discussion with Elon Musk tonight on Twitter Spaces, setting up a battle with his former ally Donald Trump. Mr DeSantis, who has signed a stream of legislation targeting Florida’s LGBT+ community as he seeks to forge a reputation as a “culture warrior”, is considered Mr Trump’s main challenger for the Republican nomination and right to take on Joe Biden.

Who are the Russian defectors behind the Belgorod attack? “We, the soldiers of the Legion of Freedom of Russia, call on every free Russian, wherever you are, to join our struggle,” their mission statement said, but little is known about them. The dissident group presents risks as well as opportunities for Ukraine, Keiron Monks reports.

France has banned domestic short-haul flights where existing train routes can be taken in under 2.5 hours, in a bid to cut carbon emissions. However critics have described the latest measures as “symbolic bans”.

In Macau, a semi-autonomous city an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong, a shrine to the UK’s capital is about to be unveiled in the form of The Londoner, a £1.6bn mega resort. It will feature replicas of landmarks such as Big Ben, and will have its grand opening this Thursday, with football star David Beckham flying in.

The Italian hamlet of Canedo has fewer than a dozen residents, but the first birth there in 57 years has catapulted the tiny residential cluster to national fame. Canedo’s newest parents – Luca Truddaiu, 25, and Elisa Nervetti, 36, who gave birth to Marghelisa earlier this month – have become local heroes.

 Watch out for…

 Ron DeSantis, who is expected to formally announce his bid for the White House on Twitter this evening. 

 Thoughts for the day

Suella Braverman abused her power – and that’s enough to sack a minister. The attempted cover up does more damage than the original offence, says Lord Bob Kerslake.

Britain really is trapped in a sick note crisis – I see it every day as a GP. Sick notes that start at two weeks can stretch to two years, reveals Dr Punam Krishan.

Rolf Harris doesn’t deserve peace – his victims do. Harris will be remembered as a paedophile who showed no remorse for his crimes, writes Sangita Myska.

Rolf Harris leaves court in 2014 (Photo: Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Culture Break

The best new fiction in translation, from Boulder by Eva Baltasar to This Is Not Miami by Fernanda Melchor. As the International Booker Prize is awarded, Michael Delgado chooses the best foreign language fiction of the last year.

The International Booker Prize will be awarded this evening

The Big Read

Ozempic will do wonders for your weight – whether it affects your willpower remains unknown. We’re very far from knowing whether the drug semaglutide helps people get over compulsions and addictions, reports Stuart Ritchie.

Does Ozempic hold the key to self-control, as well as weight loss?


Didi Hamann: ‘Liverpool need a Joelinton in midfield – they lack Newcastle’s fear factor’. The former Liverpool midfielder also believes signing Alexis Mac Allister could lead to a domino effect this summer – despite the prospect of no Champions League football at Anfield.

Didi Hamann believes Liverpool need a player of Joelinton’s stature (Photos: Getty)

Something to brighten your day

Don’t waste time, and live life to the full. That’s the advice from Ireland’s oldest woman, who spent her 109th birthday celebrating with friends on a vintage bus and then carrying on at her nursing home. Máirín Hughes says she enjoys bird-watching, reading newspapers and novels, crosswords, listening to music and playing Scrabble. “I just like living,” she says.

Máirín Hughes is described as an ‘inspiration’ and does a crossword puzzle every day (Photo: Gráinne Ní Aodha/PA Wire)

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