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The paranoia is deep today

The paranoia is deep today

I’ll tell you what, the paranoia has been very deep of late.

I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I’m re-reading George Orwell’s classic 1984 as the stage show was recently in town.    At the same time, I’m reading Red Sparrow before I head off to the movie, which has strange parallels to the poisoning of Russian Spies in the UK. Then there is fake news and alternative facts?

We already know that we shouldn’t believe everything we read and maybe just maybe we shouldn’t believe everything we see on the interweb, but despite that, fake news continues to be swallowed and spread by a great many people.

The Rise of Fake

As Rik from the Young Ones said I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate but a little bit of bending the truth and fake news have probably been with us since the first time a caveman sent his neighbour off hunting game where there was none and then spent the rest of the day enjoying the LOL.

But the digital age has taken Fake to the next level. We already know that “Fake News” was implicated as a contributor to Donald Trump’s election win while not a new phenomenon, its power to influence people’s thinking, even when it comes to their vote for the most powerful person in the world, placed it in a new and disturbing context.

How Dangerous is Fake?

Here’s the thing that got me,  fake can be fatal. Take this story as an example. A bogus report that flu vaccinations were giving people flu with fatal consequences went viral on Facebook. Facebook flagged the source as being unreliable, but it still reached upwards of half a million people through content sharing. Social media lit up with horrified members swearing they’d never have a flu shot again.  

How did otherwise rational people get taken in by this tale? The fake news sites know how to win people over, it played on people’s worldview and their emotions. Seemingly confirming the fears about unethical behaviour from Big Pharma. A (fake) doctor form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was quoted to add credibility, then killed off in yet another fake news story.

Deep Fake

Here’s where it gets interesting, Deep Fake, this goes beyond don’t believe what you read it makes you wonder if you can even believe your own eyes and ears Let’s take a look at the background, and it all begins with Fake Porn.

Yes, I’m not kidding. I’ve been finding out all about it, and it has proved to be an interesting area to research, and before you chuckle I can assuer you I was only looking at it for research purposes.  

It started with a “superimposed the face of traditional actress Gal Gadot onto the body of a porn star. The result? Fake porn (this is a link to an article!)  The clip was built using open source software that just about anyone can get their hands on.

Within a few shakes of a porn star’s anatomy, fake video became the next big thing. There’s already an app that lets you take images of a person you know and pop it into a video clip on top of someone else’s body. The possibilities are endless and frightening.

There’s Good News… And Bad

Right now, fake videos aren’t all that convincing if you look at them closely it’s yet altogether convincing, except at a glance. Below are a couple of videos (both suitable for work) of how AI wrote a Trump speech and how AI rendered the Trump Saturday night live clips (

For now, at least, everyone agrees that an alert observer might spot some oddities when watching fake videos. That’s the good news.

Now for the bad.

Tech moves fast. When you what Elon Musk calls double exponential

We have an exponential increase in hardware capability and we have an exponential increase in software talent that is going into AI.

It’s not going to taking years or even months to come up with improved ways to create authentic looking fake videos, it will take days.

That’s scary stuff.

What if fake video became so authentic-looking that an AI-generated video of a world leader could start a war? And just think what Nigerian Prince scammers will be able to come up with.

We Need to Think More Clearly Than Ever Before

So what do I make of all of this? Fake news is a thing, Deep fake is a thing, what you read and watch may not be as real as you believe.  It is going to come down to us and using critical thinking to assess what is real and what are ‘alternative facts’.

It reminds me of 1984

“War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.”

KS

The New Yorker AI created a Trump Speech written by AI

Images of SNL Trump enhanced by deep fake


 

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