Living in a Post-Truth World

 

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Photo by Lerone Pieters

 

While I’m on a streak of returning to old posts, I figured I might as well add an update to my original article on deep fakes.

“Post-Truth” is something that, at first glance, doesn’t even seem remotely probable. It seems like a parody of itself. “Truth is something that is ingrained into the fabric of our reality,” it makes you want to say, “how can we possibly lose Truth?”.

Let’s think about the two fundamental ways we determine whether something is true or not. Firstly, we look towards sources we see as reliable. Secondly — and perhaps more fundamentally — we look with our eyes and hear with our ears. What we’ve now reached is a place where both of these concepts are under attack; as fake news makes its way even to sources thought once suitable, deep fakes make their way to disrupt the way we view content.

The first time this happened, most notably, was with Photoshop; and, in a way, Photoshop was the first iteration of this concept. After Photoshop’s major advent, we began to distrust the images we saw circulating the internet, insistent that there was a high chance the image was doctored. But now, in an age of deep learning, what do we do if we can’t trust video and audio either? What will define truth now?

There’s a few innocent uses of deep fakes, and a lot of malicious ones. The original article went over what is now referred to as “non-consensual deep fake pornography”; but it now appears that this only cracks the surface. Now, bad actors can use deepfakes to spread misinformation, including but not limited to hit pieces on individuals and convincing national propaganda.

Already numerous laws are circulating congress revolving around banning the use of deepfake technology, but is highly unlikely to stop bad actors. It seems as of right now that the best way of preventing the spread of deepfakes is to develop technology specifically designed to counteract it; that means creating systems and software that are dedicated to identifying doctored content and reporting it to the proper authorities (whether those be legitimate federal authorities or sub-authorities that are specific to a community, e.g. Facebook Moderation).

Regardless of the direction we go in these next five years, the face of what we see as true will change drastically. We just need to hold out and hope that we can develop methods that will keep truth alive.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do higher quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

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