A Whole-of-Society Approach to Countering Deepfakes and Disinformation

On November 15, the Council on Foreign Relations hosted an excellent symposium exploring the question: “Will Artificial Intelligence Curb or Turbocharge Disinformation Online?” The symposium brought together the country’s top experts on the subject and set the room abuzz with thought-provoking discussions around the current iteration of disinformation. During a panel on “Deep Fakes and the Next Generation of Influence Operations,” the panelists explored various approaches to this concerning evolution in AI technology and especially the possibility of using AI itself to combat the problem.

Robert Chesney, the James Baker Chair in Law at the University of Texas at Austin and co-author of the seminal piece on “Deep Fakes: A Looming Challenge for Privacy, Democracy, and National Security,” offered two approaches: detection technologies and digital provenance technologies, and highlighted Truepic as an example of the latter.

Chesney noted:

“Truepic is doing really cool work. It’s one of several companies in the digital provenance space and what this means is coming at the problem from the supply side, trying to increase the extent to which there’s authentication-based technologies — watermarks, if you will — built right into the content at the point of capture, and it’s really cool when it works.” .

Digital Provenance

So what is digital provenance? Digital provenance refers to the metadata that establishes the chain-of-custody information needed for viewers and users to evaluate their trust in digital data. At Truepic, we agree with Chesney that this is the most effective approach to restoring trust to our interactions with digital images and videos. We refer to this technology as “controlled capture.”

Truepic’s controlled capture technology authenticates photos and videos at the point of creation. It captures device sensor data, encrypts the photo or video before transmission, runs more than 20 image-forensics tests, and imprints the image's cryptographic signature on the public blockchain—all in a matter of seconds. As a result, provenance is established and immutable.

Digital Resiliency

At the CFR event, the panelists agreed that while AI and other technologies can help, ultimately it is up to people to build up resiliency against the rapidly-evolving information landscape. In an excellent and instructive article published by Neiman Lab on “How The Wall Street Journal is Preparing its Journalists to Detect Deepfakes,” Francesco Marconi and Till Daldrup reiterated this point when spotlighting Truepic’s technology: “Regardless of the technology used, the humans in the newsroom are at the center of the process.” Quoting Rajiv Pant, chief technology officer at the Journal, “Technology alone will not solve the problem… The way to combat deepfakes is to augment humans with artificial intelligence tools.”

Building up digital resiliency is more than developing technology — it means grappling with ethical issues, drawing in historical and cultural contexts, being aware of the impact of secondary trauma, striving towards diversity of thought, and a whole host of other considerations. At Truepic, we are advocates of a “whole of society approach” when thinking of solutions: it will take all aspects of society to chip in and sing off the same sheet of music to successfully combat deepfakes and other challenges that arise.

Work with us

Our Strategic Initiatives team is using our deployed, tested, and iterated technology to provide a solid foundation of authentication on which people (at civil society actors, NGO partners, and other organizations ) can propel their methodologies and expertise to address the most critical, values-oriented cases of citizen empowerment through trust-building: journalism/free press, voting/election integrity, justice and accountability for the gravest of crimes, unifying people to overcome challenges and strengthening the fabric of society through trust and transparency.

We are continually iterating, improving, and developing new products to tackle photo & video authentication across a variety of scenarios. If you are seeking tech-enabled solutions to today’s most challenging issues, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!