Saturday, January 2, 2021

U.S. Army Mad Scientist Laboratory: "The Death of Authenticity—New Era Information Warfare"

From The Mad Scientist Laboratory:

[Editor’s Note: Mad Scientist Laboratory is pleased to publish today’s post, heralding the advent of the post-truth era with the convergence of deepfakes, AI-generated bodies and faces, and AI writing technologies.  These tools are revolutionizing the nature of competition and could have a devastating impact on nations’ will to fight once competition has transitioned into armed conflict — Beware!  (Note:  Some of the embedded links in this post are best accessed using non-DoD networks.)]

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth” 
Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha

Even this quote is not entirely truthful. What the Buddha really said was, “Monks, there are these three things which shine forth for all to see, which are not hidden. Which three? The disc of the moon shines for all to see; it is not hidden. The disc of the sun does likewise. The Dhamma-Discipline [dhamma-vinaya] of a Tathagata [Buddha] shines for all to see; it is not hidden. These are the three things.”

But what if the truth becomes increasingly hard to discern? What if authenticity (i.e., full trustworthiness) is actually dying? The advent of the Internet brought with it the global spread of a myriad of hoaxes, urban myths, and the dreaded fake news. During the first decade in the twenty-first century, it was a recurrent weekly theme to see a fake celebrity death spread like wildfire.

While propaganda, deception, and information warfare has existed in some form or fashion from ancient times through modern history (e.g., Soviet maskirovka), the convergence of technology and these political/warfare areas has truly weaponized disinformation on social media and throughout the political arena. This employment of new era information warfare seeks not to necessarily change opinions, but erode trust in conventional institutions, induce trepidation and doubt, and instill a sense of indecisiveness that allows adversaries and nefarious actors the chance to achieve their ends, fait accompli.

The emergence of weaponized social media, as typified in P.W. Singer’s “LikeWar — The Weaponization of Social Media,” is potentially just the tip of the iceberg compared to the emergence of some disruptive technologies in the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) sector. There are three specific AI/ML applications that could bring about the Death of Authenticity:

1) Deepfakes – Videos that are constructed to make a person appear to say or do something that they never said or did (similar to the appearances of Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon with Forrest Gump in the 1996 eponymous movie). AI has improved this capability so greatly that it is extremely difficult to discern deepfakes from real video by the naked eye and ear – as seen in recent examples such as acclaimed director Jordan Peele’s video of President Obama. Deepfakes are alarming to national security experts as they could trigger accidental escalation, undermine trust in authorities, and cause unforeseen havoc. Significant efforts are underway to use the same technologies enabling deep fakes – AI/ML – to detect and counter them.

2) AI-Generated Bodies and Faces...


Related at MadSci: 

284. The Convergence: Disinformation, Revisionism, and China with Doowan Lee 

269. The Convergence: The Psychology of Terrorism and Disinformation with Dr. Aleks Nesic

And many more:


Fakes, Deepfakes and Generative Adversarial Networks