WeeklyTech #106

Deepfakes and the Degradation of Truth

Charles Spurgeon singingFrederick Douglass movingTom Cruise playing golf on TikTok!

If you’ve seen any of these things online, you’ve encountered an amusing and significant new technology: deepfakes. While deepfake technology, powered by artificial intelligence, may have been in the limelight in recent months, this technology is not that new. It is just becoming more believable and more accessible to the public.

Recently we saw this technology used by a 50-year-old Japanese biker to trick the internet into believing he was a young woman. It has also been used to create fake videos of well-known leaders like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and in some cases to create fake nude photos of women without their knowledge. While this technology may make history come alive or create amusing videos on social media, its consequences will only continue to grow as society loses yet another anchor of reality and truth in the technological age.

The Rundown

Platforms struggle with Taliban policy amid chaotic US withdrawal – Russell Brandom | The Verge

Social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are coming under new scrutiny for the way they treat Taliban accounts, as the militant Islamist group emerges as the dominant power in Afghanistan in the wake of the US withdrawal. While none of the platforms have publicly changed their policies on the group, moderation practices have come under close scrutiny, and many are shifting resources to ensure the policies are appropriately enforced.

The Taliban have seized U.S. military devices – Ken Klippenstein and Sara Sirota | The Intercept

THE TALIBAN HAVE seized U.S. military biometrics devices that could aid in the identification of Afghans who assisted coalition forces, current and former military officials have told The Intercept.

Now That Machines Can Learn, Can They Unlearn? – Tom Simonite | Wired

A nascent area of computer science dubbed machine unlearning seeks ways to induce selective amnesia in artificial intelligence software. The goal is to remove all trace of a particular person or data point from a machine learning system, without affecting its performance.

It’s hard to be a moral person. Technology is making it harder. – Sigal Samuel | Vox

Multiple studies have suggested that digital technology is shortening our attention spans and making us more distracted. What if it’s also making us less empathetic, less prone to ethical action? What if it’s degrading our capacity for moral attention — the capacity to notice the morally salient features of a given situation so that we can respond appropriately?

OnlyFans to Bar Sexually Explicit Videos Starting in October – Lucas Shaw | Bloomberg

Starting in October, the company will prohibit creators from posting material with sexually explicit conduct on its website, which many sex workers use to sell fans explicit content. They’ll still be allowed to put up nude photos and videos, provided they’re consistent with OnlyFans’ policy, the company said Thursday.