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Deep-fake video of Buddhist teacher soliciting donation sparks concern

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Mingyur Rinpoche (L) and (R)screen grab of AI-generated deep fake video of Mingyur Rinpoche

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, May 31: In a shocking incident of online fraud, cybercriminals created an AI generated deep fake video of Mingyur Rinpoche, a well-known Buddhist teacher appealing his followers for donations, sparking concerns of a new threshold of scam and fraud.

In recent years, the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology has given rise to a concerning phenomenon known as deep fakes. Deep fakes are AI-generated media where a person’s likeness is manipulated to produce fabricated videos or audio recordings. By using deep learning techniques, particularly generative adversarial networks (GANs), these technologies can create highly convincing counterfeit media. 

Upon discovering the deep fake video, Mingyur Rinpoche issued an official statement to clarify the situation. The statement urged followers not to believe the fraudulent video and emphasised that no such donation request had been made. 

“If you encounter any videos online that you suspect are AI-generated (in particular those involving payment for activities to be participated by you or services to be provided to you) or if you have doubts about their authenticity, please be vigilant. Do not believe such information lightly or pass on such information to others,” the statement read. 

The statement also raised awareness about the recent increase in AI-generated content involving Mingyur Rinpoche’s teachings. Some of these videos have circulated online, presenting information contrary to his teachings. Followers were advised to visit Rinpoche’s official website, Tergar Asia, for clarification and to address any doubts or confusion.

Born in Nepal in 1975, Mingyur Rinpoche is a well-renowned meditation teacher and author. His first book, The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into over 20 languages. He has also authored Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom and his most recent book, In Love with the World.

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