'Deep fake' voter manipulation likely in federal election: Fanshawe prof
Published Friday, September 13, 2019 5:25PM EDT
A dire warning about deep fakes, a Fanshawe College professor says we can expect more attempts at voter manipulation using the emerging technology.
Jim Cooper is with the college’s School of Information Technology. "I think we're probably going to see it in our election. And we're certainly going to see it in the U.S. election next year. We're going to see it."
Last year Buzzfeed and Monkeypaw Productions created a video with actor/director Jordan Peele using his dead-on impression of US President Barak Obama in combination with an equally impressive face-replicating technology.
While the video can be funny and lighthearted at times, the message Peele ultimately delivers is compelling one, "This is a dangerous time."
Social media and elections have proven to be a troubling combination in recent years. Facebook and data analytics firm Cambridge Analylitica were both condemned for their influence on the 2016 US election and the Brexit vote in the U.K.
And here in London, Ont. there was the Blackridge Strategies' 2018 municipal election scandal, with fake campaign signs leading people to derogatory web sites targeting two council candidates.
Cooper says the greatest concern comes when misinformation goes viral, "You don't really know how an election's going to go. If we have a really close election, then a little bit could make a lot of difference in the end."
Cooper says we need to view online content with a critical eye. But it's also incumbent on tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to use machine learning to weed out fakes.
"They would certainly have the talent and the skillset to do a reasonable job of combatting this kind of thing."
The Canadian and U.S. governments have been taking steps to address cyber threats - including deep fakes - but Cooper says these threats will continue to be a part of our election reality.