AI-Fabricated Reality Looms on the Horizon
Imagine scrolling through your social media feed and seeing a recent video of your favorite celebrity making inflammatory statements endorsing an extremist political group. Or receiving an urgent phone call from your CEO demanding sensitive company data and funds be transferred immediately to a foreign bank account. Such scenarios may sound far-fetched, yet they foreshadow our approaching deepfake dystopia.
Deepfakes refer to hyper realistic forged media generated by algorithms called generative adversarial networks (GANs). By training these AI models on large datasets of authentic imagery, voices, videos and text, GANs can fabricate new “fakes” nearly indistinguishable from reality. Creations span dazzling AI art, viral absurdist memes, Hollywood special effects, empowering accessibility tools and much more. However, uncontrolled proliferation of deepfake capabilities drastically escalates risks of coordinated fraud, extortion, psychological abuse and political destabilization.
The Perfect Disinformation Storm
As deep learning automation fuses with quantum computing hardware advancements, extremely high-volume, targeted computational propaganda becomes feasible. If current progress continues, over 90% of online content could originate from AI systems by 2026. Visual, vocal and textual deepfakes uniquely exploit human psychology compared to previous media manipulation techniques. Even experts demonstrating forensic skepticism get deceived under experimental conditions.
Synthetic disinformation possesses numerous advantages over traditional propaganda:
- Accessibility: User-friendly apps like Avatarify already enable anyone to “deepfaking” within minutes.
- Virality: Social networks algorithmically amplify sensationalist, emotionally-charged fakery over mundane truths.
- Anonymity: Cryptocurrencies and VPNs hide creators obscuring attribution. Watermarks get cropped; metadata stripped.
- Plug-and-Play: Language models pre-train on infinite data. New scripts effortlessly port to new faces and voices with minimal data samples.
As reality becomes programmatically malleable, all previous assumptions about evidencing truth collapse. Trust in leaders, journalists, scientists, courts and video recordings erodes. Consensus reality fractures into tribal bands clinging to their preferred alternative facts. Psychologists warn such conditions risk fueling conspiratorial thinking, public health disbelief and political violence. The very foundation of civil discourse rots away.
Preserving Society’s Informational Immune System
Battling this impending “reality crisis” requires bolstering society’s informational immune health through sociotechnical interventions. As DeepTrust founder Aman explains, “Our mission is protecting human authenticity however necessary, whether via detection models, content certification or increased public awareness around disinformation tactics.”
DeepTrust and allies currently develop media forensic solutions identifying GAN fingerprints in Circulating content. However, improved generation may defeat detection capabilities over time. More systemic precautions around deepfakes must evolve in parallel, including:
- Digital signatures on authorized media via blockchain-style hashing
- Certified hardware like microphones cryptographically validating origins
- Public policy enacting right-to-authenticity laws regarding synthetic media
- Media literacy education teaching critical thinking and emotional regulation
- Psychological inoculation against common manipulation tactics
Through collective action across sectors, people can retain agency over their identities despite technological threats from the corrupt few. Although turbulent times loom ahead, by upholding compassion and human dignity, truth and wisdom can prevail even in seemingly falsified realities. The solution relies on an interdisciplinary meshing of ethics, education, policy, tech and activism.