WeeklyTech #1 – How Deepfakes Erode Trust

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How deepfakes erode trust: What Christians can do when reality is distorted

One of the most powerful and frightening developments in technology as of late is the deepfake. From government leaders grasping how to handle these fake videos to corporations like Facebook seeking to minimize their distribution online through content moderation, deepfakes are beginning to take hold in our society, and not for good. Well-known leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have already fallen prey to these fake videos, and many more are on the horizon. As we enter into the 2020 presidential election cycle, deepfakes will continue to gain an outsized role in the news we see, ultimately affecting what we believe. So, what are we to do about them as a society?

As I have previously written, deepfakes are simply fake videos produced using highly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to create extremely realistic and potentially dangerous pieces of content. Deepfake technology has become a hot topic in our communities because of how it can misrepresent reality. This technology is not new though. For example, versions of it have been used for years to create celebrity pornography videos. Face swapping can give the illusion that our dreams are reality by taking the face of one person and placing it on another’s body. Pornography has helped propel these technologies into the mainstream and fostered further innovation.

But just as pornography sells us a cheap and distorted version of reality, deepfakes can present the world as some want it to be rather than as it is. The deepfake disillusion can not only harm how we view ourselves and those around us, but can also cause us to question some of the most basic aspects of what is true in our divided world. The aim of a deepfake is to present an alternate reality and sow discord in our society.

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Jason Thacker

Jason serves as the creative director and associate research fellow at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is a graduate of The University of Tennessee and Southern Seminary. He writes and speaks on topics including human dignity, technology, and artificial intelligence. His new book on AI and human dignity releases in 2020 with Zondervan. He is married to Dorie and they have two sons.

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Jason serves as the creative director and associate research fellow at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is a graduate of The University of Tennessee and Southern Seminary. He writes and speaks on topics including human dignity, technology, and artificial intelligence. His new book on AI and human dignity releases in 2020 with Zondervan. He is married to Dorie and they have two sons.

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