DAY #118 – Free GS Answer Writing Practice

1)A recent phenomenon called ‘Deepfakes’ has gained media attention. It has been found to be a powerful technology through which programmers can manipulate a video or audio content and make them look real. While the technique can be used to have some harmless fun, it is rife with possibilities of misuse. From creating fake pornographic videos to making politicians appear to say things they did not, the potential for damage to individuals, organisations and societies is vast.
(a) Identify the potential damaging effects of such a technological tool?
(b) What steps are required to minimise the impact and adequately deal with the misuse of such technologies?

The term “deepfake” derives from the notion of “deep learning,” a branch of machine learning, which is itself a part of Artificial Intelligence, and the notion of “fake,” which is to say, a counterfeit or forged version of something.

The potential damaging effects of deepfakes can be understood as:

Create a longlasting distortion of reality- Deepfakes can spread rapidly across social media and fake rumours can take a long time to be recognized and debunked. So, a well-produced deepfake could become entrenched in the public mind as truth long before the deception can be detected.

Erode people’s trust in truth- In the longer run, it might become impossible to distinguish between the real picture/video and the fake ones. The notion of ‘believing what you see’ will come under attack. As a consequence of this even truth may not be believed.

Weaken the legal system- It can weaken institutions based on audio-video evidence such as journalism, police investigation etc. The existence of fully synthetic content would offer an avenue for actors to deflect accusations of impropriety based on recordings and video, by claiming the source material has been faked.

Weaken the democratic discourse- It can manipulate elections and erode trust in institutions. It has the potential to manipulate volatile stock markets and hence disable the economy.

Disrupt the social fabric- It can exacerbate social divisions and can undermine public safety. Riots and lynching have happened earlier due to fake videos circulating on social media.

Harm to Personal reputation: It can also inflict hard-to-repair damage on the reputation of prominent individuals including elected officials, celebrities and public figures.

Security Challenge- Online scammers, partisan zealots, state-sponsored hackers and other non-state actors eager to take advantage can manipulate this technology in their favour.

Further, it can be used for various cybercrimes. For e.g. to threaten or harass a female victim, the perpetrator would no longer require nudes or sex tape.

The capacity to generate deepfakes is emerging at a much faster pace than the ability to detect it.Therefore, following steps are required to minimise the impact and adequately deal with the misuse of such technologies:
Legislative actions: Since existing laws are inadequate,
o An act should be brought to ban malicious deepfakes and make them a criminal offence.
o To create and distribute a deepfake without including a digital marker of the modification and text statement acknowledging the modification should be criminalised.
o Victims should be given the right to sue the creators of these misrepresentations for damage to their reputation.
o Creating or distributing deepfake within 60 days of an election should be barred. Executive actions:
o An executive body like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the USA should be established.
o There is a need to train human content moderators who could judge the content and context of a video, fact check it and decide whether it should remain on a platform or not.
o Encourage the release of large social media datasets for social science researchers to study and explore solutions to viral misinformation and disinformation campaigns.

Technological measures:
o Artificial Intelligence and Block chain technology governed with smart contracts and consensus algorithms can be used to detect and combat deepfake techniques.
o Each media file can be given a software badge (digital equivalent of a DNA fingerprint) guaranteeing it has not been manipulated.
Social Media Responsibility:
o They can impose a ban on posting AI-driven deepfakes.
o The manipulative message can be marked for containing deceptive video.
o Companies should make it easier to report deepfake harassments.
o When such contents are flagged, it should be subjected to a third-party fact-checking
program.

The power of deepfakes combined with the rapid speed in which it could be circulated online shows their damaging potential. It is the responsibility of both government and social media companies to come up with adequate steps to counter the misuse of such technologies. Taking these aspects in consideration, companies like facebook and twitter have rightly banned he deepfakes.

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