AI and the Holocaust: rewriting history?

19. Juni 2024
UNESCO

AI and the Holocaust – rewriting history? Managing the impact of artificial intelligence on understanding of the Holocaust

The threats associated with AI on safeguarding the record of the Holocaust are manifold, including the potential for manipulation by malicious actors, the introduction of falsehoods or dissemination of biased information, and the gradual erosion of public trust in authentic records. This paper provides a warning of what is at stake for the preservation of historical truth in a digital era increasingly mediated by AI. This report highlights five major concerns:

1. AI automated content may invent facts about the Holocaust.
AI models have produced misleading or false narratives about the Holocaust. Data voids and biases have led to “hallucinations” in generative AI systems, producing incorrect or invented content that never occurred. Without AI literacy and research skills, users may not know how to verify AI-produced texts, or recognize the unreliability of the data.
2. Falsifying historical evidence: Deepfake Technology
Deepfake technology has potential to manipulate audio and video to fabricate Holocaust-related content. There is a need for mechanisms to prevent the misuse of AI in purposefully creating fake “evidence” that undermines the veracity of the established historical record of the Holocaust and spreads hate speech. Deepfakes of celebrities have been used to spread Nazi ideology, or to simulate conversations with Nazi leaders including Adolf Hitler.
3. AI models can be manipulated to spread hate speech
Targeted campaigns by violent extremist online groups can exploit AI flaws to promote hate speech and antisemitic content about the Holocaust. Chatbots and search engines have been hacked or manipulated by bad actors to spread Nazi ideology.
4. Algorithmic bias can spread Holocaust denial
Biased data sets have led to some search engines and AI chatbots downplaying Holocaust facts or promoting far-right content, including Holocaust denial.
5. Oversimplifying history
AI’s tendency to focus on the most well-known aspects of the Holocaust, oversimplifies its complexity. The omission of lesser-known episodes and events in the history of the Holocaust reinforces stereotypical representations of the Holocaust and limits our understanding of a complex past which affected people in every country in Europe and in North Africa, and whose legacy continues to be felt worldwide.

the report