Innovative Solutions Needed to Prevent Spread of Fake AI Pictures of Underage Students

Innovative Solutions Needed to Prevent Spread of Fake AI Pictures of Underage Students

High school students sit at a table holding digital devices during a class lesson. (LBeddoe/Shutterstock)

John Seiler

John Seiler


Updated: 5/7/2024

I’ll start with my conclusions.
The problem of AI fake pictures of underage students being shared among their peers in schools is part of the overall moral decay of American society. The decay especially has damaged American schooling, as other writers and I have covered in The Epoch Times. The student protests we’re seeing on college and university campuses are a post-K-12 extension of the decay.
The real need is for a moral revival. The first step in schooling would be to privatize all education. I brought that up for higher learning in my previous article, “Hillsdale Is the Model: To Deal With Protests, Privatize Colleges and Universities.”
That privatization also ought to be extended to K-12 schools. A good start would be advancing more charter schools in California. After beginning with promise three decades ago, charters have been under attack by powerful teachers unions. For years, charter numbers have been limited to just 11 percent of statewide enrollment, despite high student achievement and strong demand.
Ultimately, California ought to adopt Arizona-style universal school choice. That currently gives parents $7,000 per child for use at any school, whether regular public, public charter, or private. The program is less than a year old. So with the school year just ending, results are not yet in.
Although private schools also have problems with the AI fake pictures, which can be made after school hours, they at least can promote teaching ethics without political involvement. Since the 1962 decision Engel v. Vitale, the U.S. Supreme Court has banned all religious instruction or prayers, effectively inculcating atheism.
Conservatives used to talk about restoring prayer in the public schools. However, given the diversity of religions in America today, it would be impossible to restore the pre-1960s situation in public schools. Hence, the promotion of non-public schools is needed.

More School Choice Needed

More charters and school choice generally already have given parents and students options for pedagogy. For example, in Orange there’s the Orange County Classical Academy, which uses curricula designed by Hillsdale College, my alma mater.
Here’s another idea: How about an academy that uses no modern electronic technology, and discourages students from using it at home. Instead, classrooms would go back to physical books, blackboards, and slide rules.
Our tools directly affect us. Socrates warns in Plato’s “Phaedrus” how writing dims memory: “You, who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.”
We’re not going to get rid of writing. But getting kids away from cell phones, iPads, computers, TVs, etc., which have clear harmful effects, would improve their minds greatly. And they would be prevented from creating or even being exposed to the fake AI pictures.

The Legal Situation

The problem of these AI fake pictures is real, but it isn’t new. Before computers, people could just paste together different pictures, combining real and fake elements. Then came Adobe Photoshop in 1987, which let people easily “Photoshop” together pictures real and fake.
All AI has done is make the whole process easier and more realistic. Which brings up the legal situation.
The Los Angeles Times reported on one case on April 15: “AI-generated child pornography is circulating. This California prosecutor wants to make it illegal.” The story: “SACRAMENTO — After several reports of artificial intelligence-generated child pornography surfaced in California, Ventura County Dist. Atty. Erik Nasarenko advocated for a change to state law to protect children who are increasingly vulnerable to this misuse of technology. ...
“‘When it came to my attention, I said let’s file [charges],’ Nasarenko told The Times. But, because of current loopholes in California law, he learned that he couldn’t press charges in cases where the photos of children are AI-generated.
Assembly Bill 1831, by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) and co-sponsored by Nasarenko, would ensure that A.I.-generated sexually explicit images of children are illegal to possess, distribute and create. The bill would also apply to photos that depict highly realistic images of children but are not real. The bill is also co-sponsored by SAG-AFTRA and the California District Attorney’s Assn.”
But it’s unlikely any new law will hold up in court. “These laws clearly violate the First Amendment,” Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at the libertarian Reason Foundation, told me. “You can paint or draw a picture of anyone you see, or draw them on your computer, or have an AI draw them. They don’t have any right to control your memory of what they look like or any image of them you might make. AI is just the hysteria end of something that has always been possible and protected.”

Other Solutions

Pressure on social media companies also is advancing. Last month Instagram announced, “New Tools to Help Protect Against Sextortion and Intimate Image Abuse.” AP reported on the effort, “Instagram begins blurring nudity in messages to protect teens and fight sexual extortion.”
About the same time, The Epoch Times headlined, “Tech Giants, Federal Law Identified by Advocacy Group as Enabling Sexual Exploitation.” It wrote, “The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) released its yearly list of ‘mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation’ on April 10. The list includes a range of companies, primarily large corporations in the technology sector, and one piece of federal law.
“NCOSE’s ‘Dirty Dozen List’ list contains companies that, according to the organization, do not take sufficient measures to protect society from the negative effects of sexual exploitation.”
Said NCOSE Vice President and Director of Corporate Advocacy Lina Nealon, “Apple, Meta, and Microsoft are among the most powerful and profitable companies globally. Unfortunately, their products and policies are also undoubtedly fueling the child sexual abuse crisis and enabling the proliferation of image-based sexual abuse. ... Instead of dedicating the necessary resources to prevent exploitation of both children and adults, they are prioritizing profit and engaging in an AI arms race.”

Real Remedies

Conservatives have a tendency to reach for impossible solutions. When Roe v. Wade was imposed in 1973, pro-lifers wasted two decades trying to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution repealing it, something never feasible. In the 1990s, they wised up and began passing what state laws they could limiting abortion.
In 2016, they made a tacit deal with candidate Donald Trump. In return for their support, he would appoint only pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, instead of those who faked it and turned out to be pro-abortion, such as David Souter, Anthony Kennedy, and Sandra Day O’Conner. Mr. Trump was elected president and appointed three pro-lifers.
In the case of the AI fake pictures, conservatives should realize whatever law might be passed will be done so by the very left-wing California Legislature, which is tightly connected to and financed by the Silicon Valley tech giants. The technology also is changing so fast only those at the top understand it. Those companies will make sure the new laws help themselves and hurt startups.
Instead, this ought to be seen as an opportunity to increase parental control of the schools, as I outlined above.
John Seiler

John Seiler


John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at and his email is

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