If you tuned into social media recently, you might have caught a video of Tom Cruise swinging a golf club, performing a magic trick, and genuinely acting somewhat goofy. However, there was nothing genuine about it-the video was artificially created and perfected using generative adversarial networks (GAN). This technology combines generating a product from a database of images and videos of a person with a system of checks and balances to improve the quality to the point of passing as real. This process is analogous to the human version of a counterfeiter producing S100.00 bills while the forensic analysis with the magnifying glass and chemistry tools continues to find flaws in them until they are acceptable to pass out to the public.
Bad Intentions Make Deep Fakes a Serious Threat
The creator of the Tom Cruise video, Chris Ume, is a visual effect artist who has combined his talent with deep learning artificial intelligence experts to come up with the multi-disciplinary perfect storm of science and creativity. Unfortunately, Ume’s world of deep fake videos is running parallel to those with malevolent intent. Bot accounts, fake photos, and videos can ruin people’s lives, incite panic, impact public perceptions of current affairs, and even be a threat to national security. Fake videos of politicians acting inappropriately, CEOs predicting financial calamity, and famous people in pornographic scenes are becoming more and more prevalent. This scourge on visual media has been going on for years with the invention of such programs as Photoshop, but the sophistication level has reached immense complexity. In response, laws and legislation have been passed recently to combat the problem.
DoD Budgets for the Fight
Congress included language in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that reads as follows:
SEC. 589F. STUDY ON CYBEREXPLOITATION AND ONLINE DECEPTION OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AND THEIR FAMILIES. (a) STUDY.—Not later than 150 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall complete a study on…….(8) An intelligence assessment of the threat posed by foreign government and non-state actors creating or using machine-manipulated…