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Roving Periscope: His own digital double ‘shocks’ Russian President Vladimir Putin!

Roving Periscope: His own digital double ‘shocks’ Russian President Vladimir Putin!


Virendra Pandit


New Delhi: As the world grapples with Artificial Intelligence (AI)—arguably the digital ecosystem version of Dr.  Jackyll/Mr. Hide in our era—and rushes to regulate the technology monster, Russian President Vladimir Putin was ‘shocked’ as his own AI version, a Putin-double, confronted him on Thursday.

Interacting with his digital double, President Putin was left speechless briefly, during an annual phone-in event after he confronted ‘himself’ on a screen with the latter asking him about AI and its dangers!

According to the media reports, President Putin was asked a question about AI and its dangers during a Q&A session with the public. The questioner was not, however, a person but an AI-generated version of Putin himself. A video of Putin’s interaction with his ‘double’ has now been shared widely on social media all over the world.

During the Q&A session, the ‘double’ in a necktie– who introduced himself as a university student – asked the Russian President about his doubles and his attitude towards the “dangers of neural networks and AI.”

“Hello, I am a student at St. Petersburg State University. I want to ask, is it true you have a lot of doubles? And also: How do you view the dangers that AI and neural networks bring into our lives?” the ‘double’ asked Putin.

The question triggered peels of laughter from the crowd, and a brief pause from the Russian President, who wore a flinty look.

“I see you may resemble me and speak with my voice. But I have thought about it and decided that only one person must be like me and speak with my voice, and that will be me,” President Putin responded.

“That is my first double, by the way,” the Russian President added.

The event was President Putin’s annual phone-in with the Russian public, which was paired with his end-of-year news conference. A closely followed event, it allows Russian people a chance to directly speak with their President.

Putin was already in the fourth hour of the marathon event when he faced questions from the AI-generated version of himself.

For years, there has been speculation, especially in the Western media, about Vladimir Putin having one or more body doubles to cover for him at certain public appearances because of his reported health issues.

The Kremlin, however, has refuted such claims both in the press and on social media, saying that President Putin’s health is excellent.

The Thursday incident came when the world is vying for a leadership position in the AI sector, even as concerns around AI-deepfakes spreading misinformation grow.



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