National uses realistic-looking AI-generated health workers, scared woman to front attack ads

The National Party has admitted using artificial intelligence (AI) to create fake photos for its political attack ads. 

But it appears no one looped in leader Christopher Luxon who earlier on Tuesday denied the use of AI when Newshub showed him the ads. 

The fast, the furious, and the National Party attack ad.

The ad may on first glance appear to show the cast of the Fast and Furious movies. But a second look, however, reveals they are cheap knock-offs of Vin Diesel, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and others.

It's not Diesel, but an AI-created image.

"Yes we have used AI to create some stock images," a National Party spokesperson told Newshub.

"It's an innovative way to drive our social media. As with all social media, we are committed to using it responsibly."

Luxon was in the dark about dark arts AI politics. 

"I am not sure. All I would say on that one is I think dissing Fast and Furious isn't really acceptable. I have modelled my look on Vin Diesel and I think it's not fair that that's the case."

And whether or not the party was using AI to avoid yet another copyright drama?

"I don't know about the topic in the sense of I am not sure. You are making an accusation that we are using it, I am not sure that we are. I will need to talk to our team."

It appears it's not just remakes of mega movie franchises. Take a scroll back through National's social media and National's confirmed to Newshub there are AI-generated nurses, robbers made by robots, and a crime victim - she's virtual too. 

AI is a looming political unknown. In the United States, the Republicans made an ad made entirely of AI-generated images.

It's become such a concern that a US lawmaker has introduced a Bill that would require disclosure of AI-generated content in political ads.  

As for Labour, it's not interested in AI ads.  

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he isn't aware of Labour using AI in its ads.

Labour campaign manager Hayden Munro said: "The Labour Party hasn't used AI images in any of our designs or advertising in this campaign and we don't intend to."

"Chris Hipkins has been clear he wants Labour to run an honest and upfront campaign New Zealanders can trust."

Jenna Lynch Analysis

I spoke to a copyright law expert who says by using AI National's probably in the clear as they haven't used any actually copyrighted material.

While what National has done with these pictures is relatively harmless, AI could be a slippery slope, we don't want politics descending into the world of deep fakes, videos made to look and sound like real life people. 

National says AI is an innovative way to drive its social media and would be used responsibly. Labour's view is it won't use AI because it wants to run "an honest and upfront campaign".  

And therein lies National's potential political problem with this.

Labour is aware that Luxon has a trust problem as shown in our Newshub-Reid Research poll and we've already seen them trying to make hay with the "can't trust National" line. 

National using fake imagery doesn't exactly conjure thoughts of honesty and trust, feeding directly into Labours lines