Warning against ‘Deepfake’ ahead of 2020 elections

Many lawmakers are increasingly circumspect of the threat of video manipulation, also known as ‘Deepfake’ ahead of the 2020 US presidential elections.

Deepfake refers to an artificial intelligence-based human image synthesis technique. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images, or videos using a machine learning technique called a "generative adversarial network" (GAN). The combination of the existing and source videos results in a fake video that shows a person or persons acting at an event that never occurred in reality. Deepfakes can also be used to create fake news and malicious hoaxes.

A number of lawmakers believe that Deepfake could be the next stage of information warfare that could endanger society as Deepfake videos are highly compelling. It is hard to determine what is real and what is not.

Three members of the House of Representatives, including Rep. Adam Schiff, who now chairs the House Intelligence Committee, wrote to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates about the dangers of these videos. They said: "As deep fake technology becomes more advanced and more accessible, it could pose a threat to United States public discourse and national security, with broad and concerning implications for offensive active measures campaigns targeting the United States.”

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that they are struggling to “track and combat interference efforts and other malign activities on social media -- and the explosion of deep fake videos is going to make that even harder."

Assessment

Our assessment is that the rise of ‘Deepfake’ has indeed got both the intelligence community and the general public worried. We believe that the threat of AI is extensive and enigmatic. The lack of know-how in handling such technology could have a drastic effect in the election process, specifically during campaigning. We feel that it is imperative to take the first steps to understand ‘Deepfake’ technology and learn how to tackle it.