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It has the potential to ruin relationships, reputations and our online reality. "Deepfake" artificial intelligence technology promises to create doctored videos so realistic that they're almost impossible to tell from the real thing. So far it has mostly been used to create altered pornographic clips featuring celebrity women's faces but once the techniques are perfected, deepfake revenge porn purporting to show people cheating on their partners won't be far behind.
But more than becoming a nasty tool for stalkers and harassers, deepfakes threaten to undermine trust in political institutions and society as a whole. The White House recently justified temporarily banning a reporter from its press conferences using reportedly sped up genuine footage of an incident involving the journalist. Imagine the implications of seeing ultra-realistic but artificial footage of government leaders planning assassinations, CEOs colluding with foreign agents or a renowned philanthropist abusing children.
News - People - Scepticism - Towards - Politicians
So-called fake news has already increased many people's scepticism towards politicians, journalists and other public figures. It is becoming so easy to create entirely fictional scenarios that we can no longer trust any video footage at face value. This threatens our political, legal and media systems, not to mention our personal relationships. We will need to create new forms of consensus on which to base our social reality. New ways of checking and distributing power—some political, some technological—could help us achieve this.
Deepfakes are scary because they allow anyone's image to be co-opted, and call into question our ability to trust what we see. One obvious use of deepfakes would be to falsely implicate people in scandals. Even if the incriminating footage is subsequently proven to be fake, the damage to the victim's reputation may be impossible to repair. And politicians could tweak old footage of themselves to make it appear as if they had always supported something that...
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