Leading up to the 2016 presidential elections, Russia bombarded the media with fake news stories, and flooded social media sites with bots pushing all sorts of propaganda along with the fake news. But now national security experts are worried about a far more sinister threat that could influence the 2020 elections in a much more serious way.
As reported by the Washington Times, policy insiders and senators from the Democratic and Republican parties alike are concerned that Russia, and other governments hostile to the United States, could use “deep fakes” to cause chaos at the next presidential elections.
The process, which is the result of brand new technology, “produces high-quality audio and video of individuals saying things they never said or doing things they never did.” According to analysts, it is near impossible to tell the difference between real videos and the “deep fakes” as the fakes video are able to mimic voices and copy speaking patterns and facial cues to an almost exact match.
“We are heading to an era where deep fakes technology is going to cause real chaos,” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, told a room full of military, intelligence, and national security officials at the National Security Forum. “It’s going to destroy human lives, it’s going to roil financial markets, and it might well spur military conflicts around the world. When deep fakes technology produces audio or video of a global leader saying something or ordering some attack that didn’t happen. You’re going to have to actually have flesh-and-blood humans who have a little bit of a reservoir of public trust who can step to a camera together and say, ‘I know that looked really real on your TV screen. But it wasn’t real.'”
US military researchers have made this technology a top priority, realizing the dangers it could pose to elections and democracy. According to officials, the improvement in the technology and the testing being done by the United States is a result of the escalation of Russia’s involvement in elections.
US officials are also concerned that China may be getting involved in similar games, and is preparing for the possibility that both powers will be using only the best technologies available to them to disrupt the U.S. elections and democracy.
The technology has already been used to create fake sex tapes of famous actresses that have done the rounds, and have shown very convincing developments in those clips already.
The military has been keeping an eye on these developments for years already, and in the past two years alone has spent over $68 million in efforts to find ways that can identify fake footage. Media outlets have also realized what a nightmare “deep fakes” will become for them. The Wall Street Journal announced last month that it has already launched an “internal deep fakes task force” that will serve to train journalists in spotting the fake footage before sharing it as actual news.