Saturday, May 25, 2024

Decade of ”Deep Deception”

Author: Sefer Selimi Jr.

The year 2020 is full of challenges that will define the next decade and global developments perhaps beyond this decade. The large geopolitical clashes sometimes manifested through trade war, military technological advancements, challenges of regimes through protests to direct and indirect wars bring back the Cold War fever – an era thought to have ended with the demolition of the Berlin’s Wall.

Presidential elections in the United States of America and US-EU relations, Brexit and the crisis of the European idea, conflicts in the Middle East and the ongoing provocations of Iran, the unknowns of the war in Syria and the outcome that will appear out from this, Turkey’s cooling off with NATO countries and open flirting with Russia, the open ambitions of the People’s Republic of China to become a global leader and their expansion of influence through strategic infrastructure investments and loans to developing and developed countries, social unrest in Latin America – herald a dynamic decade that will be full of unpredictable and risky developments to trigger new global crises.

Liberal democracy, as we have known for the last 30 years, experiences internal attack by autocratic tendencies of extremes from all ideological spectrum. Autocratic leaders, populists, anti-establishment, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, the right extremists, the left extremists and others, who use religious dogma to take advantage of the masses, abuse the freedom that democracy brings to take power and sabotage the very system through which they came to power. This decade begins with extreme polarization around the globe, and this polarization does not come from mainstream political debate but is also fueled by online social networks, which have become key tools to foster and deepen this polarization

In recent years, especially after Russian interference in the last US presidential election, disinformation has become one of the most serious threats to democracy. Impact through disinformation campaigns is often not intended to favor one or the other candidate but simply to disorient voters, to demotivate them and, at best, to direct them to extreme and radical forces. This form of campaigning finds a suitable ground to take root in divided and polarized societies, where conspiracy theories against each other are a common product of historical conflicts.

Disinformation is not a new invention, but an old subversive technique almost like the war for power, used by the intelligence services, but its creation, transformation and distribution has evolved along with communication technologies. The social media crisis created a new opportunity for the old technique and today we all know it as ” False News ”.

The decade we just started comes with an even greater challenge. The advancement of Artificial Intelligence creates endless opportunities for technological development in all fields but like any new technology, it has tremendous potential for abuse by bad actors. ‘Deep fake’ is a new technique that is being perfected and is expected to cause a wave of crisis in modern societies. With the help of Artificial Intelligence and audio-visual technology, this technique can alienate in appearance and voice real people in almost real proportions that can easily manipulate ordinary citizens. The first experiments are terrifying and a warning that the war against disinformation is not at the end but it will get even more and more difficult. The implications and consequences that can come from misusing the voice and appearance of real people with power or influence are both unimaginable and scary.

So far, the use and impact of deep fake is limited but from what we have seen so far, it is a warning that this will be the decade of ‘Deep Deception’. As with fake news or other disinformation techniques, in this case we will also need to educate citizens on how to consume information and media products critically, without completely eroding trust in the outdated journalists and media who are vanguards of functioning democracy and the protectors of the public interest.

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