Paedophiles are using artificial intelligence (AI) to create images of celebrities as children.
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said images of a famous female singer reimagined as a child are being shared by child abusers.
According to the BBC news website:
On one dark web forum the charity says images of child actors are also being manipulated to make them sexual.
Hundreds of images of real victims of child sexual abuse are also now being created using bespoke image generators.
The details come from the IWF’s latest report into the growing problem, as it tries to raise awareness about the dangers of paedophiles using AI systems that can create images from simple text instructions.
Since these powerful image generation systems entered the public domain, researchers have warned that they have the potential to be misused to generate illicit images.
In May, Home Secretary Suella Braverman and US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a joint statement committing to tackle the “alarming rise in despicable AI-generated images of children being sexually exploited by paedophiles”.
The IWF’s report details how researchers spent a month logging AI imagery on a single darknet child abuse website and found nearly 3,000 synthetic images that would be illegal under UK law.
Analysts said there is a new trend of predators taking single photos of well-known child abuse victims and recreating many more of them in different sexual abuse settings.
One folder they found contained 501 images of a real world victim who was about 9-10 years old when she was subjected to sexual abuse. In the folder predators also shared a fine-tuned AI model file to allow others to generate more images of her.
The IWF says some of the imagery, including that of celebrities as children, is extremely realistic and would be indistinguishable to untrained eyes.
Analysts saw images of mostly female singers and movie stars that had been de-aged using the imaging software to make them look like children.
The report did not identify which celebrities had been targeted.
The charity said it was sharing the research to get the issue put onto the agenda at the UK government’s AI Summit next week at Bletchley Park.