Disinformation War: US Politicians Say 'Deepfake' Technology Can Post a Threat to National Security

Monday, 17 September 2018 - 11:54AM
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Monday, 17 September 2018 - 11:54AM
Disinformation War: US Politicians Say 'Deepfake' Technology Can Post a Threat to National Security
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Image Credit: Pixabay Composite
Reality is turning into a battleground, just like dystopian fiction said it would: a new study has found that Russian agents were stoking the anti-vaccination debate on Twitter in part to sow scientific doubt among the American public, and a 2017 Pew survey found that experts are (almost) equally divided over whether the future will be dominated by misinformation or truth. Now it looks like there's a new phenomena to throw into the breach of information warfare and disinformation: deepfakes.

The concept of behind "deepfakes" is relatively simple: deep-learning artificial intelligence programs are getting better at recognizing faces, so people (mostly Internet nerds with too much time on their hands) have started using it to replace faces in videos and images. Right now, the two primary uses for deepfakes are replacing the faces of actors in blockbuster movies with that of Nic Cage and altering porn videos so that the faces are exchanged with movie stars. There's even a company that wants to use deepfake technology to allow users to insert their own faces into porn videos.

As unsettling as they may be, US Representatives aren't worried about about Nic Cage face-swaps. They're concerned that someone will use deepfakes to forge videos and photos to trigger national crises. According to a letter to Daniel Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, written by congresspeople Adam Schiff, Stephanie Murphy, and Carlos Curbelo: "Forged videos, images, or audio could be used to target individuals for blackmail or for other nefarious purposes. Of greater concern for national security, they could also be used by foreign or domestic actors to spread misinformation...it could pose a threat to United States public discourse and national security..."

If you take a look at Jordan Peele's Obama video, you'll realize that a decent deepfake can be surprisingly convincing:



It's not just a concern with disinformation, either—Schiff and his fellow representatives are worried about how technology can undermine our perception of what's real: "By blurring the line between fact and fiction, deep fake technology could undermine public trust in recorded images and videos as objective depictions of reality."

Sci-fi writers and commentators have speculated for years over what shape our inevitable techno-dystopia would take. Who would have thought that age would be heralded by the face of Nicolas Cage?
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