I’ve seen the future of fake, and it’s getting fakier.
The misrepresented photo – false attribution
Back in 2018, during the Kavanaugh hearings about Christine Blasey Ford, a Facebook friend of mine posted a photo of people who were allegedly defacing Kavanaugh’s garage door with paint. (“This is how liberals conduct themselves”) It was fake news from a fake ABC news site. The photo had nothing to do with Kavanaugh and was a couple years old. Had my FB friend checked with Snopes he would have learned the truth, but he said he doesn’t believe a word Snopes says.
The magically appearing child – video morphing
The BBC has evidently edited videos to get rid of unwanted breaks in a conversation. The person being filmed in the linked example probably appreciated that a cough or stutter was edited out, but please, networks, don’t do this in news coverage. The telltale evidence is the kid who materializes in the frame as if from a Star Trek transporter.
The doctored footage – sped up motion
Also in 2018 was the film of a CNN reporter who allegedly roughly put his hands on a White House intern. A section of the video was sped up to create the impression of a rougher treatment (a kind karate chop). That’s the version that was shown by the White House when defending its decision remove the man’s press credentials.
Utterly and totally false – Deepfake
Now it’s possible to create video with seemingly real people doing fake things through the magic of AI. Put one person’s face on another person’s body and you can have a famous person punching someone else in the nose, or drinking themselves into a stupor, though it never happened. You can also fake the words coming out a real person’s mouth. There’s no end to the fun. Here’s good description of what you can do with the Deepfake software. And here’s one where you can test yourself – which video is fake?
The future of fakery
I’m confident that it won’t be long before the entire scene in a video, including the people, the background, and action can all be convincingly faked and indistinguishable from reality. Movie studios can mostly do it now, but before long you might do it on your phone. People will be able to show violent acts that never happened, designed to inflame and instigate real violence. They can show a president of one country declaring war on another,
Good times, eh? I think people will learn to cope with this stuff, but only after some messy events. As with the Kavanaugh garage photo I started with, thousands or millions of people will see and believe what they want to believe without ever investigating any further. If you have no fact checkers, no standards for separating truth from fiction, if the only measure is what you want to be true … what is reality?
If you ask me, the issue of why we believe what we believe, and how we check ourselves, is one of the biggest and most important subjects of this era. But that’s another post for another time.