Deepfakes And The 8 Pillars Of The Post-Truth Era

The real becomes the fake becomes the real

What do you know about the world? No really, what do you actually know?

What one thing do you know to be 100% true?

“The earth spins around the sun”

Really? Have you been into space? Did you see it for yourself? Or did somebody else tell you about this “fact”?

Hitler killed millions of Jews”

Did you personally see it happen? Were you there? Or did you hear it from your history teacher? Where did your history teacher get this information from? A history book? What if this history book was written by the government who lied in order to spread propaganda against the Nazis? Can you say with 100% certainty that this isn’t a possibility?

I am a 30-year-old man”

How do you know you’re a man? Maybe you’re a woman plugged into a digital simulation. You can’t disprove this possibility. And is your name really David? Or did two people claiming to be your parents just tell you your name is David? Are you sure they’re your parents? Did you conduct a DNA test on them? Or did you just believe what they told you?

Almost all of the information you have about the world was given to you by another human being. And human beings may not be reliable sources of information,

You didn’t study history first-hand. You’ve never been into space. You probably have no idea how the internet works. You don’t know what your government is doing. You don’t even know where your food comes from (You may know what you’ve been told about where your food comes from, but you didn’t personally witness it’s journey from the environment to the supermarket).

You know almost nothing first-hand. Which means you need to trust experts, journalists and various other people to tell you the truth.

But what is “truth”?

We used to have gatekeepers. A select number of media outlets who would tell us about the state of the world. Newspapers. TV news. Radio news. Books written by experts.

The times have changed. The internet has arrived. Technology has advanced. And we’re about to enter an era of post-truth.

In the digital world, trivial information is accumulating every second. And digital information never deteriorates.

Rumours. Opinions. Misinformation. Disinformation. Fake news. All this junk data is preserved in an unfiltered state and growing at an alarming rate.

The untested truths spun by different interests continue to churn. Organisations create their own truths for financial gain. Others create truths that prove their political ideologies correct. And algorithms separate society into their own filter bubbles, each with their own truths.

Nobody is invalidated. But nobody is right.

THE WORLD IS BEING DROWNED IN “TRUTH”

I present: The 8 Pillars of the Post-truth Era.

  1. Deepfakes
  2. Confirmation Bias
  3. Filter Bubbles
  4. Statistics
  5. Lies of the establishment
  6. Fake News
  7. Merchants of Doubt
  8. The Public

Pillar 1: Deepfakes

So far, we’ve dealt with the manipulation of text in the form of fake news and the manipulation of images with photo-retouching. These have already caused huge problems.

Now we have the manipulation of video and audio on the horizon in the form of deepfakes.

And it’s about to change everything.

It is now possible to take somebody’s face, put it onto the body of someone else and make it look realistic. Using machine learning AI you can make the mouth movements and speech sync up perfectly.

It works by giving the AI a large number of sample images of an individual’s face to study (These images are easily found on Google images or social media) The AI can then effectively make it appear like their lips are saying specific words.

Not only that, but you can literally put words into somebody’s mouth. Adobe Voco allows you to take anybody’s voice and make it sound like they’re saying anything you want them to. The AI analyses a sample of individual’s voice and can then digitally recreate new words in the exact same voice.

To put it simply: Video and audio can now be convincingly faked.

At least, it almost can. At this moment, it’s still possible to tell the difference between a manipulated video and a real one. But it’s not easy. And experts say that within 1–2 years the fake will be indistinguishable from reality.

Video can no longer be trusted.

And the deepfake arms race has begun.

Already organisations have been formed in an attempt to keep ahead of the new technology.

As of right now, there are still methods of differentiating a deepfake from a real video.

One method is checking for unusual blinking patterns. Another is to look for the subtle change in skin colour during a person’s heartbeat. But if there’s one thing we know about regulators, it’s that they’re always forced to play a cat and mouse game.

Athletes who use blood doping are always one step ahead of the regulators. And the same will be true of deepfakes.

Every time the regulators find a method of detecting a deepfake, the deepfake creators will find a new method of getting past the regulators. It will be an endless cat and mouse game with the creators of deepfakes always being one step ahead.

Imagine a convincing fake video of Donald Trump announcing a nuclear strike on North Korea being released. Within 3 minutes North Korea may have responded with a real nuke of their own before discovering that the video is fake.

Imagine a fake video being released of an Iranian celebrity burning an image of the Prophet Mohammed. The celebrity would quickly have a mob of blood-thirsty Muslim extremists at their door.

Deepfakes don’t only work on faces. They work on all of reality. This image is taken from a fake video that was manipulated to show gun-rights activist Emma Gonzalez tearing up the US constitution rather than a shooting target.

Eventually people will learn to stop trusting videos. Overtime, the world become accustom to deepfakes.

The question is..

What will the world be like after people stop trusting videos?

Video is the ultimate form of media. What other type of media can possibly show reality more effectively than a video?

Video is simply a recording of reality. If you can’t trust a recording of reality, then what can you trust?

Video is the final frontier. After video there’s nothing left. You can’t trust text. You can’t trust images. What happens when you can’t trust video and audio either?

We will enter into a world where the truth doesn’t exist.

Politics and Power

Anything outside your own personal experiences will be suspect. And the truth will be decided by who states their own version of truth the most effectively.

If a politician is caught on video doing or saying something scandalous, that video will be meaningless. This politician can simply claim “deepfake” and have a legitimate case.

During presidential campaigns political parties can create fake videos showing their opponent engaging in some kind of disgusting act. Sure, the public will suspect a fake video, but the subconscious connection between the presidential candidate and this disgusting act will be made in the minds of the public.

TV debates will be reduced to arguing over whether video footage is real or not.

Law and Order

And what about the law? How can CCTV footage be admissible as evidence after trust in video is gone? A videotape of a murder will be useless in a courtroom.

Body cameras on police will also be suspect. Sure, there will be laws against manipulating the footage from police body cameras, but that doesn’t mean that the public won’t be suspicious of this footage.

If a police body camera shows an officer shooting an unarmed black man, then perhaps it was faked by the government who wants to push an anti-white agenda. Why not? Any conspiracy is admissible when you can’t trust the reality of video.

Porn

Deepfakes also allow anybody to placed into a porn scene. Anybody will be able to take images of your face (easily found on your social media pages) and feed them to the AI.

Deepfake celebrity porn already exists.

Now just consider for a second a combination between deepfakes and VR porn.

You’ll be able to have sex with anybody you like.

  1. Take images from their social media pages and feed them to the AI.
  2. Take similar body shape to the person you want to have sex and put their face onto this body
  3. “Have sex” with this person from a first-person perspective while making eye-contact with them in the VR simulation (And with the incorporation of sex robotics, you’ll be have something physical to have sex with).

Deepfakes are the next level. But they’re only the latest technology that will flood the human race with false information. Misinformation is already everywhere. On the internet, every piece of truthful data is surrounded by false data.

The World Is A Lie

Do you feel a little confused about the world lately?

It seems like every time you manage to get a grasp on the truth on a particular subject new contradictory evidence appears to muddy the waters.

The more you research a subject, the more confused you become.

In the modern world of nutrition we have the perfect example.

Let’s start with a simple question: Is Milk Healthy?

Left: thisisinsider.com Right: saveourbones.com. Both results found on the first page of Google search.

What the hell? Are we supposed to drink milk or not?

We were told for decades that milk was good for your bones and teeth because it contains calcium. But now it’s possible that the exact opposite is true: that milk makes your bones and teeth weaker by depleting calcium from your body.

We were told for decades that eggs were bad for you because they’re high in cholesterol. But now it seems possible that eggs are actually an incredibly healthy super-food.

Should we be on the paleo diet? Or a vegan diet? Is fat good or bad? Is milk healthy or unhealthy? Are eggs healthy or unhealthy? Go to the internet and you can find 1000 different answer from every direction and walk away more confused than when you started.

Then there’s the world of healthcare. Where doctors can’t be trusted in America because of the financial incentives pushing them to prescribe as many drugs as possible.

Picture this scenario. You’re unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer and the doctor tells you You have 6 months to live. The doctor suggests immediate chemotherapy as the only option for a chance of survival.

Then you go on Youtube and see this:

And then this:

So what do you do? Do you trust the qualified doctor who is insisting on chemotherapy? Or do you trust the mass of contradictory evidence found on the internet? Which truth do you believe when your life hangs in the balance?

Then you have politics. My god. Where to even begin?

Political discussion today is a toxic circus of: confirmation bias, filter bubbles, misinformation, disinformation, fake news, false statistics, financial incentives, clickbait and toxic comments sections.

What good are fact-checkers in a post-truth world where the fact-checkers themselves aren’t trusted?

A stunning conversation between Republican Party Member Newt Gingrich and CNN Journalist Alisyn Camerota

Newt Gingrich: Republican Party Member. Alisyn Camerota CNN Journalist.

Pillar 2: Confirmation Bias

The world is infinitely complex. From the galaxies in the solar system to the atoms in your living room carpet.

Your brain can’t possibly hope to understand it all. So your brain takes shortcuts. We see what we want to see. And we believe what we want to believe.

The human brain is not logical. It’s predominantly emotional. We make up our mind based on emotional considerations and then seek to justify them with rationality. This is confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is big business. Fox news was created to cater to the confirmation bias of those on the right-wing. The entire business is made by taking an nonobjective, right-wing viewpoint on everything in an effort to build a loyal audience that they can sell to advertisers.

But it’s not just Fox news. There are websites, blogs and Youtube channels all over the internet throughout every niche that are making money by spouting the same ideology on permanent repeat. Left-wing, Right-wing, Feminism, MGTOW. These are digital markets based on appealing to the confirmation bias of the audience.

Likes and shares are guaranteed when you tell people what they want to hear. Nuanced content containing opinions that don’t align with the target audience do not bring in clicks. The internet financially incentives content that caters to confirmation bias.

Pillar 3: Filter Bubbles

Each of these ideologies are inside their own filter bubble. The algorithms of Google and Facebook ensure that you only see content that agrees with your existing beliefs.

In an effort to maximise engagement with their platform, Google and Facebook have personalised the content with the user. You get different Google search results than other people.

That’s why half the population never expected Trump to win the election. All of the content they were seeing was pro-Hilary content. The digital filter bubbles that they were unknowingly inside kept any pro-Trump content well away from them.

Each filter bubble has their own language. The right-wing filter bubble uses phrases such as “Libtard”, “Regressive Left” and Femniazi. The left-wing filter bubble uses phrases like “#punchanazi”, “Drumpf” and “Orange Man”.

Filter bubbles don’t only have their own language but also their own statistics.

Metal Gear Solid 2 (2001). Predicting filter bubbles and the Post-Truth era back in 2001.

Pillar 4: Statistics

Cumulative iPhone Sales = The total number of iPhones sold…EVER..

Statistics never lie. Right?

There’s something about numbers and graphs that just seem so concrete. It’s data. It’s facts. It’s truth.

But just like anything else, humans can manipulate and misrepresent data. Statistics and graphs are not to be trusted either.

When the founder of Apple Tim Cook conducted this presentation, the quarterly sales of iPhones had actually decreased. A decrease in sales would lower confidence in Apple’s brand.

So what do they do? They misrepresent statistics. They simply put up a graph of cumulative sales (A meaningless number showing the total number of iPhones ever sold) that gives the impression that iPhone sales are doing fantastic.

Left: Fox news representation of data. Right: Accurate representation of data

Here we have two charts, both displaying the exact same data.

Graphs are a visual medium. The data isn’t important. It’s how the data looks that counts.

When people see two rectangles that are vastly different in size, they immediately make a conclusion. And because it’s a graph there’s no arguing with it! It’s just data after all.

But when you take a look at the Y-Axis of the graph displayed by fox news, you’ll notice it only ranges from 34–42%. The real representation of the data (with the Y-axis starting at 0) would look like the graph on the right. Now the situation seems far less dramatic.

Feminists are also guilty of misrepresenting statistics.

Let’s start with the basics. Does this seem plausible to you? That 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted at college.

You may know at least 5 women that go to college. Does that mean that at least one of them has been sexually assaulted?

These are the kind of statistics you would expect to find in a war-zone.

The first question to ask is where did this statistic come from? It turns out the origins of the 1 in 5 statistic come from a 1970 survey conducted by a scientist called Mary Koss on 6000 university students across Ameirca.

The question asked participants to rate their experience on a 4-item scale from “I don’t feel I was victimised” to “I feel I was a victim of rape”. The problem is, it was an opt-in survey. The results don’t account for the fact that women who have experienced sexual assault are far more likely to take the survey in the first place.

It’s called participation bias. A common problem with surveys.

There are also several other major problems with the survey and statistical experts say that the survey is not reliable. But who cares what statistical experts say?

The creator of the survey, Mary Koss, wanted a particular statistic from the survey. When 1 in 5 participants stated that they had experienced sexual assault, she jumped to conclusions.

And the statistic is still stated as fact in 2019.

Clearly there is too much sexual assault on college campuses. But using false statistics further obscures the actual truth of the matter.

The statistic is correct. And yet misleading.

Hilary Clinton, a presidential candidate, proves that post-truth is already here.

The statistic she states is completely correct.

The problem is that the statistic carries an implication. The implication is this: There is a gender wage gap because of gender discrimination.

This implication is wrong.

There are endless possible reasons why the pay gap exists. Job choices. Lifestyle choices Biological differences in personality between genders. And yes, gender discrimination too.

But is gender discrimination fully responsible for this statistic? Of course not.

We don’t know what percentage of the wage gap is due to gender discrimination, but it certainly isn’t 100%.

Yet the statistic continues to be stated as fact, even by presidential candidates. Hilary Clinton is fully aware that the statistic is misleading. But she’s also fully aware that her fan-base doesn’t care. Confirmation bias insures that her fan-base will read the statistic how they want to read it.

This is post-truth. When assumptions and opinions mean more than facts.

9 out of 10 dentists who tried Colgate would recommend it. This is not untrue.

The survey asked dentists to list all of the toothpastes they would recommend. They were not asked to pick their favourite.

Different brands of toothpaste are more or less exactly the same. This statistic is meaningless. Dentists would recommend almost all brands of toothpastes.

Advertising campaigns use misleading statistics constantly because they know the audience won’t look into them. It’s what the audience feels that counts. Not facts.

Unfortunately, lies are not only found on the internet and in advertising campaigns. There are real lies being told to us by the government itself.

Pillar 5: Lies of the Establishment

If you want truth, you can’t turn to the establishment media.

CNN. MSNBC. BBC News. Sky News.

These are all giant corporations with their own agenda and their own truths. (BBC news is not a for-profit corporation but is still largely controlled by the establishment).

43% of Americans believed that Sadam Hussain was personally involved in 9/11 in 2006.

He wasn’t. Sadam Hussain had nothing to do with 9/11.

But it was this lie sold to the public by establishment media that drove the country to war. The WMD’s that Sadam supposedly had were never found. Another lie.

Operation Northwoods was a plan by the US government to kill US civilians and blame it on Cuba, in an effort to rally the public in a war against Cuba. This is not a conspiracy. This is a real plan by the government that was almost implemented.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident, where the USA exaggerated an attack on a the US destroyer Maddox an attempt to increase support for their involvement in the Vietnam war.

Watergate, where president Richard Nixon bugged the White house in an attempt to win a second term of presidency.

Most people in the west believe that it was America and Britain who fought together to beat the Nazis to win World War 2. When in fact, it was the Russians who were the predominant force in defeating the Nazis. It was the Russians who turned the war around. It was the Russians who took Berlin. And it was the Russians who suffered 22 million causalities. (In comparison to America’s 420,000 casualties and Britain’s 338,000 casualties.

This was of course, a manipulation of the narrative of world war 2 by the establishment.

The establishment cannot be trusted to bring you truth.

Pillar 6: Fake News

The first thing you need to know about Fake News is that it’s had it’s definition manipulated.

Fake news is news that is deliberately false. It is not merely misinformation or bias. Trump calls CNN fake news, but this is wrong. CNN may be biased, but it’s not fake news.

The second thing you need to know about Fake News is that it’s a business. Fake news is created for clicks and profit.

Much of the Pro-Trump Fake News circulated on Facebook during the 2016 election came from the poorer parts of Eastern Europe such as Macedonia and Georgia.

When interviewed, one student making thousands of dollars a week creating fake news said “My audience likes Trump. I don’t want to write bad things about Trump. If I write bad stories about Trump I lose my audience”.

Enticing, clickable stories are created and then circulated on social media. Studies suggest that 6/10 people share an article before reading past the headline. So the fake stories spread like wildfire. People click. Profit is made via ads. And depressingly enough many people actually believe the fake story (Pizzagate anyone?)

Pillar 7: Merchants of Doubt

Doubt is a business. Doubt can be bought and sold. Some people make a living from selling doubt to the public.

Smoking. Sugar. Climate Change. When there’s a multi-billion dollar industry behind something, they have the ability to shape public opinion of their industry.

If their product is causing harm to the public, they can cause confusion and doubt about this truth.

If smoking is causing cancer, they can manufacture a scientific study to say that smoking doesn’t cause cancer. Then they can then use their immense financial resources to spread this study throughout the media.

If sugar is causing an health crisis, then you can manufacture scientific studies that put the blame for major health problems on fat instead. Suddenly, everybody is avoiding eating eggs in a misguided attempt to lower their cholesterol when in fact they should be avoiding sugar.

If fossil fuels are destroying the environment, they can manufacture scientific studies that conclude that humans are having no affect on the climate of the planet. Sure 97% of the world’s climate scientists share a consensus that CO2 emissions are causing climate change. But as long as there’s doubt, fossil fuel companies can continue selling their coal and oil a little longer.

As pathetic as it is, there are people out there who feel no guilt with selling doubt to the public. Even if it comes at the expensive of our entire planet.

Pillar 8: The Public

The eighth and final pillar: The Public.

This is the central pillar that will hold up our future post-truth society. Without this pillar, all the others collapse.

People on the street. People on the subway. People in their cars. The crowd at an U2 concert. Selfies on your social media newsfeed. Commenters under Youtube videos. The 107 million followers of Katy Perry on Twitter. The 50 million subscribers of Pewdiepie.

This is the public.

Full of irrationality. Voting with their emotions. Repeating what they heard from others without thinking. Believing what they want to believe. Believing what feels good. Believing what’s convenient. Or believing wild conspiracy theories. Having arguments in comments sections on the internet. Repeating statistics they heard somewhere.

This is the public.

Who buy diet pills. Who buy penis pills. Who believe the earth is flat. Who watch Fox News. Who watch WWE wrestling. Who stare at TV commercials. Who believe fake news they find on Facebook. Who vote for the same political party no matter what.

This is the public.

Apathetic. Eating Mcdonalds. Drinking Coca-Cola. Addicted to drugs. Addicted to porn. Addicted to their Smartphones. Scrolling the Facebook newsfeed. Smoking. Gambling at the slot machines. Buying brand new cars. Buying shit they don’t need with money they don’t have.

These people don’t care about truth. They only want to feel good.

Easily manipulated. Easily controlled. Media illiterate. But fully confident in their world-view.

These are the people who will allow the post-truth era to unfold.

If you’ve read this far, you’re part of the 10%.

The 10% who care about truth. The real truth of the world. Who aren’t satisfied with being told what to believe. Who aren’t satisfied with comforting beliefs. Or eating Mcdonalds. Or scrolling the Facebook newsfeed.

If you’re in the 10%, then understand that you are the minority. The public doesn’t care. The public just wants to feel good. And in the end, the public determine the state of our world and our society.

So brace yourself. Because a world of post-truth is approaching (Or has already arrived). Perhaps everything will be fine. Perhaps it won’t. But one thing is for sure.

Change is coming.

If you’ve read this far, then perhaps you’d like to read more:

Weaponized Lies: How to think critically in the post-truth era — Daniel Levitin

Post Truth — Lee C McIntyre