John Green of the vlogbrothers channel recently released a video titled, Deepfake: A Brief History of Unreliable Images.
It was enlightening. On my blog, I raised the concern about social media and its role as a division-fomenter and the corresponding rise of deepfakes contributing to our mistrust of media.
But John re-contextualizes this problem from a historical perspective, and that is very helpful reminder in this age of alarming news. When John explains how edited photos have long been utilized throughout history to alter history, it becomes much easier to step away from thinking about deepfakes as an alarmist would. He gives examples of how historical photoshopping has been very consequential to many world leaders and elections in his video.
"People who have or want power devote lots of resources to these forgeries because they work," Green says. And he's right. Trust has been mishandled countless times in history, regardless of the medium, and it was only inevitable that one day we'd face deepfakes. Critical thinking has always been a necessity to distinguish the real from not, whether its gossip, news, or textbooks, and it will continue to be as, if not more, important than ever.
"I don't think humans will ever transcend their senses enough to decouple the visible from the real, but we better learn how to live in a world where we truly cannot believe our eyes." - John Green