Cybergeddon & the Deepfake Firebomb
By Wayne Saalman
[Photo by Milan Sonigra]
THE TIMES THEY ARE A’CHANGIN’, Bob Dylan told us way back in the Sixties and here it is well into the New Millennium now and those words are ringing truer than ever. In fact, considering all that is going on today, it can seem as if humanity has its collective head inside of a giant bell right across the globe and Thor, the ancient god of thunder, has just brought his colossal hammer smashing down against it with a merciless vengeance.
After all, not only are we presently in the “Post-Truth Era” where telling lies outright in order to charge up a political base and hold onto a position of power at any cost is apparently the new norm, now the “Deepfake” firebomb is being unleashed against us.
What are Deepfake videos? They are videos which have been manipulated in such a way that a person’s mouth can seem to be uttering whatever words a master cyber-provocateur desires.
One does not need to be a cynic to know that such a person will not use the medium to proffer platitudes of wisdom. On the contrary, the false message which is sure to be put into the mouths of any number of hapless victims will be words meant to destroy a particular person’s reputation or foment a violent backlash against the position that person represents.
Indeed, in the last few weeks, we have been told by news hosts that such fakes are so convincing that even forensic experts may not be able to tell what is real or unreal anymore.
This is an extremely disturbing new reality and it bodes very ill for all of us, especially given the touchy partisan, polarized state of world politics these days. There is just no glossing over of this unhappy state of affairs.
It may sound like a cliché to ask it, but the question for each of us is this: Are we going to be part of the problem or are we going to be part of the solution? Will we help to heal the rift between people or hold hard and fast to our divisive position of choice come what may? In other words, will we choose to help the cyber-provocateur’s message of deceit go viral and assist in sending it hurtling through the cybersphere knowing that it will cause genuine harm? Or will we refuse to give such a message any level of credence or validity by being vigilant, cautious and restrained?
As always, the choice is ours to make.
One thing is certain: We will never arrive in a Brave New World unless we unite.
Only is that going to happen? For centuries and millenniums now, humanity has battled back and forth over issues of a moral and ethical nature. We have skirmished over political, religious and scientific matters. We have fought wars of such destruction that millions have been left dead in their wake and countless cities and villages reduced to rubble and ruin.
Is this really the best we can do?
I think not. I contend that there are enough people of conscience in the world to push back against the primitive foolishness of the few and believe that is precisely what we must do. We must push back at every chance, for Deepfakes is yet another step in the wrong direction.
Of course it can be said that the arrival Deepfake technology on the global scene has been absolutely inevitable given the state of our proficiency nowadays and that at least some of the time it will be used in harmless and amusing ways, but will that be the primary thrust with Deepfakes?
Of course not.
So let’s think smart. Let’s pursue a better world by getting to grips with Deepfakes early on. How? By condemning their use as weapons of social discord; their use as tools of provocation, for if we do not this kind of deceit will have us all spiraling down into what has been called “Cybergeddon” or, worse, into “Armageddon” itself, at which point — tragically — all is lost for humanity.
We need to listen to each other and to respect each other’s beliefs, and try to the best of our ability to find that elusive common ground between all political positions on the planet.
Above all, let us collectively fight the good fight by being purveyors of intelligent civility and not provocateurs of division.
[Photo by actionvance]