The Truth Behind Deepfakes - Commentaries | NTV

The Truth Behind Deepfakes

Thursday August 13, 2020

A journalist views a video on Jan. 25, 2019, manipulated with artificial intelligence to potentially deceive viewers. (AFP) 

The definition

Deepfakes are fake recordings of videos and audios that appear and sound real. They have been
used on several occasions to derail agendas by business and political rivals, leading to someone
once referring to them as the modern equivalents of nuclear weapons.

Today, anyone can download a deepfake software and compile a convincing fake video during
their free time. As of today, deepfakes are developing into party spoilers. Initially limited to
amateur hobbyists obsessed with planting celebrity faces on a politician making careless
remarks, deepfakes are rising fast in the mainstream.

With a deepfake, it would be easy to fake an alert warning of an imminent attack or go to the
heights of destroying a celebrated marriage with a fake video. Politicians have not been spared
going into elections either. Fake videos and audio recordings emerge in the wake of elections,
but while majority of the people are well aware of the existence of such software, the effect
caused by deepfakes can be immense. In order to understand deepfakes better, they are created to appear and sound as convincing as possible.

Are deepfakes dangerous?

The truth of the matter is, anything is possible in this world. The existence of deepfakes makes
many people nervous. It was Marco Rubio, the Florida Senator who labelled them “the modern
equivalent of nuclear weapons.”

“In the old days, if you wanted to threaten the United States, you needed ten aircraft carriers, and

nuclear weapons, and long-range missiles. Today, you just need access to our internet system, to
our banking system, to our electrical grid and infrastructure, and increasingly, all you need is the
ability to produce a very realistic fake video that could undermine our elections, that could throw our country into tremendous crisis internally and weaken us deeply.” Said Rubio while
addressing an audience in Washington.

There are divided opinions about how dangerous deepfakes are, and whether they can be likened
to nuclear weapons. According to Marco Rubio, they are pretty dangerous, and one could be
made to think we are headed for bad times. That, however, is not what everyone thinks.

“As dangerous as nuclear bombs? I don’t think so. I think that certainly the demonstrations that
we’ve seen are disturbing. I think they’re concerning and they raise a lot of questions, but I’m
skeptical they change the game in a way that a lot of people are suggesting.” Said Tim Hwang,
the director of Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative at the Berkman-Klein Center and MIT
Media Lab.

How do deepfakes work?

Humans believe in seeing, and there is more truth in what they can see. Associated videos of
events tend to add weight to the information given out, and the purpose is to give more credence

through deepfakes. It is a matter of human psychology, where the larger population will not
dismiss videos as they would audio recordings.

Deepfakes are an act of malice from malicious characters that are intended to hack into human
thinking. Fake news started from way back to create deliberate falsehoods and then spread
disguised as the truth. What can a lie packaged in a video or audio do in terms of damages?
Pretty much, huh? That is the power of deepfakes.