WVXU: The ethical and privacy concerns over deep fakes and AI

Political scientist Richard Harknett weighs in on technological advances that fool the eye and ear

UC's cyber security expert Richard Harknett was a featured guest on a WVXU panel discussion on the dangers of deep fakes and other technologies that are meant to deceive.

Rich Harknett, Chair, Center for Cyber Strategy and Policy.

Richard Harknett, professor and director of UC's School of Public and International Affairs. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Marketing + Brand.

Harknett, who heads UC’s School of Public and International Affairs, explains that deep fakes are the use of manipulated video and audio presentations to create visuals that are actually not real, but have increased in sophistication so much so that you can’t tell the difference.

He says that an early, and widely recognized, example of a deep fake, although not nefarious, was evident in the movie “Forrest Gump”, where the character was placed in scenarios he didn’t really attend (i.e., meeting President Kennedy).  However, the use of technology to create falsehoods has a dark side that has advanced to the political and public sector.   

“You wind up believing that message because you believe what you see,” says Harknett, noting that deep fake creators are growing in their sophistication to create perceptions about public figures and using it for criminal activity and unauthorized access.

The panel discusses how the sophistication of software now available to the public at low cost is increasing the practice.  “Anyone can do it with applications on their personal computers,” he says.         

Listen to the interview

Featured image at top courtesy of Unsplash.

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