A fear wave of “deepfake” attacks: – The intelligence agencies are extremely worried

US authorities are busy fighting manipulated videos ahead of the presidential election in 2020.

Carnegie Mellon University has developed a method that automatically transfers facial expressions from one video to another

The term “deepfake” first appeared towards the end of 2017, when in connection with a trend where celebrities’ faces were manipulated into porn movies.

The technology behind is an advanced variant of the filter functions found on Snapchat, for example, which allows you to change a face with another.

During testing of the function last year, it was not difficult to see that the result was manipulated. However, with the help of artificial intelligence, technology is constantly improving, and much has happened over the past year.

In the United States, there have been several examples of manipulated videos by, among others, Donald Trump and Barack Obama who are beginning to approach a quality where it is difficult to see that they are false.

The technique can also be used to manipulate sound. There are already several apps that can make anyone sound like a particular celebrity.

Here is a demonstration from Buzzfeed:

The technology develops in high speed, and the horror of “deepfake” is very real.

– Possible Threat

The US Department of Defense and the Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) have now hired researchers across the country to develop methods to expose such videos.

By feeding the system with lots of examples of real and fake videos, scientists hope to train computers to discover which videos are manipulated, writes CNN.

Adam Schiff, who heads the intelligence committee of the House of Representatives, has approached Intelligence Director Dan Coats with a concern message that the technology could soon be used by “malicious foreign players”.

“As technology is becoming increasingly advanced and accessible, it can pose a threat to public conversation and national security,” he writes.

One of the softwares that can be used to create “deepfakes”.
Photo: AP

– May affect elections

The fear is also that “deepfakes” will be the next level of “fake news” in connection with the presidential election in 2020.

CNN refers to the extensive efforts to influence the presidential election in 2016. A Russian company with relations to the Kremlin has proved to be behind a number of false Facebook and Twitter accounts that published huge amounts of fake news and ads.

In 2016, the biggest fear was that the Russians should put false documents among the real, or worse, post false sections in real emails. This is still a major concern in the context of the 2020 elections, as is the use of deepfakes. Both will be another dangerous escalation of our involvement in our democracy, says Schiff to CNN.

Facebook announced last fall that they will extend their fact check to apply to video and images.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio has also warned against deepfakes as part of “the next wave of attacks” against the US and Western democracies.

He shows, among other things, an imaginary scenario where a fake video or audio recording takes off online, is quoted by news media and affects voters before analysts can determine that it is manipulated.

The intelligence community is extremely concerned about the emergence of this technology. We are already struggling to track and combat other malicious activities on social media, and the explosion of deepfake videos will make it even more difficult, “said Democrat Mark Warner of the Senate intelligence committee.

Example of a deepfake video merging statements by Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
PHOTO: ROB LEVER / AFP

New tactics

The cooperative organization Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity has also highlighted the emergence of manipulated videos.

The organization is headed by former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and has former vice president Joe Biden and several former heads of state as members.

In collaboration with the company ASI Data Science, they have developed a quiz in which the voices of known Trump imitators are set up against manipulated Trump statements made by an algorithm.

According to CNBC, a test showed that over 90 percent of respondents thought the algorithm version sounded more like Trump than Alec Baldwin’s famous imitation.

We see deepfakes as the next generation of disinformation, says former US Ambassador Eileen Donahoe to CNBC.

She believes the government has been too poorly prepared for election involvement, and says she fears a growing global trend undermining the quality of public information.


The goal is to break down confidence in democracy as a form of government, and this is the new tactic

– Eileen Donahoe

Sent manipulated Trump video – got fired

In January, a Seattle editor was fired after a manipulated video by Donald Trump aired.

The local channel Q13 Fox was to send a clip from the President’s speech in the White House, but what appeared on the screen was a version where Trump got redder skin and enlarged head, mouth and tongue.

It is not known who actually made the video, but the person responsible for the broadcast was terminated with immediate effect, writes the Washington Post.

Before Christmas, the Belgian Socialist Party also managed to create rebates with a false Trump video.

The clip, where Trump apparently turns to the Belgian people and the country’s climate policy, was meant as a joke.

There were, however, many who did not get along, and according to The Guardian the party had to move out and explain that Trump had not really said any of it.

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