Election officials and social media firms already flummoxed by hackers, trolls and bots are bracing for a potentially more potent weapon of disinformation as the 2020 election approaches — doctored videos, known as “deep fakes,” that can be nearly impossible to detect as inauthentic.
In tech company board rooms, university labs and Pentagon briefings, technologists on the front lines of cybersecurity have sounded alarms over the threat, which they say has increased markedly as the technology to make convincing fakes has become increasingly available.
On Tuesday, leaders in artificial intelligence plan to unveil a tool to push back — it includes scanning software that UC Berkeley has been developing in partnership with the U.S. military, which the industry will start providing to journalists and political operatives. The goal is to give the media and campaigns a chance to screen possible fake videos before they could throw an election into chaos.
The software is among the first significant efforts to arm reporters and campaigns with tools to combat deep fakes. It faces formidable hurdles — both technical and political — and the developers say there’s no time to waste.