THE HISTORY OF FAKE NEWS
We have all heard this declaration before, “Fake News!” It would seem that “Fake News” started with the 2016 US presidential election. The Democrats seemed to have first coined the term shortly after Hillary Clinton loss to Donald Trump. The general consensus was that the Russians created fake news across social media platforms like Facebook to influence the US presidential election. Before Hillary Clinton loss to Donald Trump, you may have believed that the Democrats invented the term and that the Russians conceived the idea. Well, you would be wrong. Fake news has its origins going back all the way to ancient Egypt, yes ancient Egypt! The first ever recorded case of fake news was when Ramses the Great, who was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt, spread false news about a war that he led, the Battle of Kadesh. In Ramsey’s fake news he portrayed himself as heroically winning the battle, when the battle was, in fact, a stalemate. So you see, fake news is not new at all and Vladimir Putin definitely did not invent it to use against Hillary Clinton.
SOMETHING MORE SINISTER THAN FAKE NEWS
As of now, Fake News is pretty simple to put together. One only needs text and some graphics to fake any news article on the web today. With the advance of machine learning, using tools like Python’s Scikit learn, nefarious programmers can now use AI to artificially create videos that literally put words in the mouths of politicians. We’re not talking about overdubbing words onto video like a bad Kung Fu movie with a funny English translation, instead, we are talking about video and audio that looks 100% authentic. The process consist of feeding an AI program video and audio of a person until the AI, through a process that is very akin to natural selection, can mimic the video and audio of a person perfectly. This technology is becoming better and better every day and within a few years, deep fake videos will be virtually unrecognizable from real videos. We are entering into an era whereby we may not know what is real or fake in the digital world.
THE DANGERS OF DEEP FAKE VIDEOS
This is very dangerous as it will allow a nefarious person, terrorist group or rogue nation to create doubt, anger and even panic in millions of internet users. Just imagine a deep fake video that has manipulated the president of the United States to say that he is launching a nuclear attack on Russia. While such a video may not actually lead to a full-scale nuclear war, it could cause mass panic which could result in all types of dangers for the general public. Such a video could also be used to short sell stocks to take advantage of any panic on the stock market. A nefarious organization could also seed doubt in a voting public’s mind right before it is time to vote for a particular candidate by creating a “newly discovered” video that shows a leading candidate saying something unappealing to his voters. By the time the deep fake video is debunked, the votes might have already been placed with the damage done.
HOW TO COMBAT DEEP FAKE VIDEOS
Currently, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is trying to invent new technologies that will detect and defeat deep fake videos. However, detecting fake video as is a task that takes great analysis and technology. This means that as usual, the good guys will probably be playing catch up to the bad guys when it comes to detecting and eliminating deep fake videos. We are entering into an era where your eyes and ears may be turned against you by a simple Python programming kit.