Deep Fakes

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    In News

    • AI-manipulated digital media can impact the lives of individuals as well as influence the public discourse.

    Present Scenario

    • Disinformation and hoaxes are evolving exponentially and growing from mere annoying to warfare tactics.
    • It is capable enough to increase social discord, increase polarisation, and in some cases, even influence the election outcome. 
    • The disinformation threat has a new tool in the form of deep fakes.

    Deep Fakes

    • About:
      • They are digital media – video, audio, and images edited and manipulated using Artificial Intelligence
      • It is basically hyper-realistic digital falsification. 
      • They are created to inflict harm on individuals and institutions. 
      • Access to commodity cloud computing, public research AI algorithms, and abundant data and availability of vast media have created a perfect storm to democratise the creation and manipulation of media. 
      • This synthetic media content is referred to as deepfakes
    • Creators of Deep Fakes:
      • Deepfake creators may be political groups, government agencies, social media users, software tech experts, visual effects artists, or the average layman. 
    • Benefits of Deep Fakes:
      • Easy Accessibility, 
      • Education, 
      • Film production, 
      • Criminal forensics, and 
      • Artistic expression. 
    • Risks involved with Deep Fakes:
      • Damages reputation, 
      • Fabricates evidence, 
      • Defrauds the public, and 
      • Undermine trust in democratic institutions. 
      • All this can be achieved with fewer resources, with scale and speed, and even micro-targeted to galvanise support.

    Issues / Challenges

    • Pornography: 
      • The first case of malicious use of deepfake was detected in pornography. 
      • 96% of deep fakes are pornographic videos, with over 135 million views on pornographic websites alone. 
      • Deepfake pornography exclusively targets women. Pornographic deep fakes can threaten, intimidate, and inflict psychological harm. 
      • It reduces women to sexual objects causing emotional distress, and in some cases, leads to financial loss and collateral consequences like job loss.
    • Harming social reputation: 
      • Deepfake can depict a person as indulging in antisocial behaviours and saying vile things that they never did. 
      • Even if the victim could debunk the fake via alibi or otherwise, that fix may come too late to remedy the initial harm.
    • Reduced trust in media:
      • Deepfakes can also cause such Long term and short term harm and accelerate the already declining trust in traditional media. Such erosion can contribute to a culture of factual relativism, fraying the increasingly strained civil society fabric.
    • As warfare tactics between countries:
      • Deepfake could act as a powerful tool by a malicious nation-state to undermine public safety and create uncertainty and chaos in the target country. 
      • Deepfakes can undermine trust in institutions and diplomacy.
    • As hate speech:
      • Deepfakes can be used by non-state actors, such as insurgent groups and terrorist organisations, to show their adversaries as making inflammatory speeches or engaging in provocative actions to stir anti-state sentiments among people.
    • Undesirable truth is dismissed as deep fake or fake news:
      • The mere existence of deepfakes gives more credibility to denials. Leaders may weaponise deep fakes and use fake news and alternative-facts narrative to dismiss an actual piece of media and truth.

    Image Courtesy: WEF 

    Way Ahead

    • Media literacy efforts must be enhanced to cultivate a discerning public. Media literacy for consumers is the most effective tool to combat disinformation and deep fakes.
    • A meaningful regulation is needed, with a collaborative discussion with the technology industry, civil society, and policymakers to develop legislative solutions to disincentivizing the creation and distribution of malicious deepfakes.
    • Social media platforms should start taking more cognizance of the deepfake issue. 
    • Easy-to-use and accessible technology solutions are required to detect deep fakes, authenticate media, and amplify authoritative sources.
    • Everyone must take the responsibility to be critical consumers of media on the Internet, think and pause before we share on social media, and be part of the solution to this ‘infodemic’.

    Source: TH