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The rise of deep fake: – watch out for that video and picture

By Austin Oduma

Cybersecurity & IT Officer

South-End Tech Limited

By now, most of us have heard of the term Deepfake.  However, what is Deepfake? Deepfake is the 21st Century’s answer to Photoshopping. Deepfake uses a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) called Deep Learning to make images and videos of fake events, hence the name deep fake.

It is not just video, Deepfake can create convincing but entirely fictional photos from scratch. Audio can be “deep faked” too, to create “voice skins” or “voice clones.”

The AI firm Deeptrace found 15,000 deep fake videos online in September 2019. A staggering 96 percent were pornographic and 99 percent of those mapped faces from women. As Danielle Citron, a professor of law at Boston University puts it, “Deepfake technology is being weaponized against women.”

The viral, AI-generated images of Donald Trump’s arrest you may be seeing on social media are deeply fake, but some of these photorealistic creations are pretty convincing, don’t you think so?  The fake video and image were viewed on social media platforms over 3 million times.

Pope in an ostentatious puffer jacket created by AI-based image generator Midjourney.

Misinformation is the spread of misleading or false information inadvertently without the intent to deceive, on the other hand, disinformation occurs when the information being spread intends to cause harm and manipulate public perception.

In Kenya, with the increase in the use of social media platforms for political campaigns, the impact of misinformation on elections has received considerable scholarly attention. Misinformation is geared toward spreading propaganda and manipulating the voters to vote for a particular candidate or political alignment.

Deepfake technology has been used to produce fake videos and audio of political leaders doing or saying something they did not do or say, to sway voters toward a particular political alignment.

Deepfake affects society by creating a zero-trust community -synthetic media and fake news- where people cannot, or no longer bother to distinguish truth from falsehood.

The law

Deepfakes are not yet declared illegal, but producers and distributors can easily fall foul of the law. Depending on the content, a deep fake may infringe copyright, breach the data protection Act, and be defamatory if it exposes the victim to ridicule.

There is also the specific criminal offense of sharing sexual and private images without consent, which the offenders can receive up to 2 years in jail.

Deepfake has great significance if used properly. Voice-cloning deep fakes can restore people’s voices when they lose them to diseases. Deepfake videos can be used to make places more interesting and livelier, for instance, a museum can use it to introduce its art.

The solutions to the deep fake era

  1. Ironically, AI may be the answer to the solution of deep fakes. AI helps to spot fake videos.
  2. Blockchain online ledger system could hold a tamper-proof record of videos, pictures, and audio so their origins and any manipulations can always be checked before you think of sharing any kind of
  3. Creating awareness is another way of mitigating the harm caused by Deepfake technology. Information that will lead to controversies, you need to verify its authenticity. People need to be able to assess the authenticity and social context of the media they wish to consume and verify the trustworthiness of the source.
  4.  Finally, yet importantly, we can use the law to curb deep fake. Regulating and governing the use of deep fake technology, prohibiting the misuse of the technology for instances such as election period. Article 33 of the Constitution of Kenya protects rights to an individual’s privacy and states that every person has a right to privacy, including the right not to have information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily revealed or their private communications infringed.

Luckily, South-End Tech Limited offers the knowledge dissemination of critical information such as Deepfake awareness. We as well educate individuals about how the Constitution protects their rights, and how they can be remediated. Moreover, we educate companies and individuals on ways to avoid being in the wrong hand of justice.

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