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Deepfake and the future of Audiovisual Simulacra

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Keynote for the 2nd Conference on Pathologies and Dysfunctions of Democracy in Media Context, at University of Beira Interior, on 14th November 2018. 

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Deepfake and the future of Audiovisual Simulacra

  1. 1. Deepfake and the future of Audiovisual Simulacra Nelson Zagalo, Universidade Aveiro 14th november 2018, Universidade da Beira Interior Keynote for the 2nd Conference on Pathologies and Dysfunctions of Democracy in Media Context
  2. 2. Starting with photography…
  3. 3. Political usage: delete Trotsky edited outAlexander Malchenko edited out. From team to sole individual, Stalin.
  4. 4. Adding Kerry to an anti-war rally 2004 Attacker of Bolsonaro at Lula event 2018 Iranian failed missile substituted by succeeded one 2008 Political usage: add
  5. 5. Store "Watches, gold and silver” changed to "Struggle for your rights” Flag changed to read, "Down with the monarchy – long live the Republic!” 1917 George W. Bush reading book wrong way 2002 Political usage: transform
  6. 6. Cultural control
  7. 7. Age control
  8. 8. We assume photography equals reality, or better, we consume it as reality. But why?
  9. 9. an excerpt from ”White Noise” (1985) by Don DeLillo Visiting the most photographed barn in America “No one sees the barn” (..) "Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn. We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura.” (..) "Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. (..) "They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said.
  10. 10. Iceland barns collected in Instagram by @insta_repeat (2017) Taking pictures of mental images formed by previous pictures
  11. 11. “The line between the reality that is photographed because it seems beautiful to us and the reality that seems beautiful because it has been photographed is very narrow…” 1970, Italo Calvin “Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted” 1977, Susan Sontag
  12. 12. “The brain doesn’t hear sound or see light. What we perceive is its best guess of what’s out there in the world (..) We don’t just passively perceive the world, we actively generate it (..) perception right here and right now is also a kind of hallucination, but a controlled hallucination in which the brain's predictions are being reined in by sensory information” “when we agree about our hallucinations, we call that reality.” 2017, Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience @insta_repeat
  13. 13. Photographs provides our sensory system the shared and agreed elements to make reality common and so true. The photograph is an externalization mode of memories, to make thinking of the world something real.
  14. 14. Realism Shared view of the world Abstract Difficult to share Audiovisual makes for perfect Simulacra Simulacra Real substitute
  15. 15. More than 300 million hours (450 billion images) of video in just 10 years. Hundreds of drawings in thousands of years
  16. 16. Audiovisual Simulacra serves our external need for shared reality, substituting the need for reality confirmation. It creates the sense of feeling together while alone.
  17. 17. We believe in common beliefs
  18. 18. Audiovisual Simulacra makes us believe without the need of common beliefs.
  19. 19. What happens then when we deepfake reality?
  20. 20. Deepfake is created from scratch, mixing different sources, combining and recombining to elaborate a non existent audiovisual simulacrum. No “delete”, no “add”, no “transform”, no previous proof to compare or contrast.
  21. 21. Everything matches with previous known truth: form, shade, movement, sound, tone, etc. It adds to previous shared and common experience. It becomes almost unbearable to not believe.
  22. 22. Memories can only be maintained if we remember them, however memories change every time we remember them. False memories implantation can reach ratios of 70% (Shaw, J., & Porter, S., 2015).
  23. 23. Global and repeated exposition rewrites previous memories, putting fake together with truth. Studies show that people tend to remember manipulated photo events even after shown to be false. Exposition again to real truth doesn’t solve immediately the problem, because common ground serving audiovisual simulacra has been disrupted. Also, it’s not easy to disprove everything, and many exposed persons will not have knowledge of the disproving evidence.
  24. 24. Deepfake will tend to rewrite History, serving the many “ministries of Truth”.
  25. 25. Deepfake and the future of Audiovisual Simulacra Nelson Zagalo, Universidade Aveiro H: B: