As If We Needed Another Looming Threat

If I didn’t have a platform bed, I’d just crawl under my bed and hide.

I’m frantic about the elections. I’m depressed about climate change and our government’s unwillingness to confront it. The last issue of The Atlantic had several lengthy stories about technologies that will disrupt our lives and could conceivably end them. (Did you know that the government is doing research on the “weaponizing” of our brains? That Alexa is becoming our best friend and confidant?)

And now there’s “Deepfakes.”

Senator Ben Sasse (you remember him–he talks a great game, but then folds like a Swiss Army knife and votes the GOP party line) has written a truly terrifying explanation of what’s on the horizon.

Flash forward two years and consider these hypotheticals. You’re seated at your desk, having taken your second sip of coffee and just beginning to contemplate the breakfast sandwich steaming in the bag in front of you. You click on your favorite news site, one you trust. “Unearthed Video Shows President Conspiring with Putin.” You can’t resist.

The video, in ultrahigh definition, shows then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin examining an electoral map of the United States. They are nodding and laughing as they appear to discuss efforts to swing the election to Trump. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump smile wanly in the background. The report notes that Trump’s movements on the day in question are difficult to pin down.

Alternate scenario: Same day, same coffee and sandwich. This time, the headline reports the discovery of an audio recording of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch brainstorming about how to derail the FBI investigation of Clinton’s use of a private server to handle classified emails. The recording’s date is unclear, but its quality is perfect; Clinton and Lynch can be heard discussing the attorney general’s airport tarmac meeting with former president Bill Clinton in Phoenix on June 27, 2016.

The recordings in these hypothetical scenarios are fake — but who are you going to believe? Who will your neighbors believe? The government? A news outlet you distrust?

Sasse writes that these Deepfakes — defined as seemingly authentic video or audio recordings — are likely to send American politics into an even deeper tailspin, and he warns that Washington isn’t paying nearly enough attention to them. (Well, of course not. The moral midgets who run our government have power to amass, and a public to fleece–that doesn’t leave them time or energy to address the actual issues facing us.)

Consider: In December 2017, an amateur coder named “DeepFakes” was altering porn videos by digitally substituting the faces of female celebrities for the porn stars’. Not much of a hobby, but it was effective enough to prompt news coverage. Since then, the technology has improved and is readily available. The word deepfake has become a generic noun for the use of machine-learning algorithms and facial-mapping technology to digitally manipulate people’s voices, bodies and faces. And the technology is increasingly so realistic that the deepfakes are almost impossible to detect.

Creepy, right? Now imagine what will happen when America’s enemies use this technology for less sleazy but more strategically sinister purposes.

I’m imagining. And you’ll forgive me if I find Sasse’s solution–Americans have to stop distrusting each other–pretty inadequate, if not downright fanciful. On the other hand, I certainly don’t have a better solution to offer.

Maybe if I lose weight I can squeeze under that platform bed…..

14 thoughts on “As If We Needed Another Looming Threat

  1. He’s talking to the same crowd who believe many world leaders are actually lizards from outer space or liberals are plotting to destroy the USA.

    Does Sasse ever criticize Fox News as a fraud?

    When they start holding the media accountable then I might turn the TV back on. Until then, it’s all theater hoping for attention. Meanwhile, they continue fleecing of the American people.

    And calling it “fake media” isn’t helping but it does work for “mental midgets” who easily grasp onto buzzwords repeated often. 😉

    Look at the herculean efforts being made in Georgia to keep a female woman of color from becoming the next governor. They are now literally throwing away ballots cast by Democratic voters.

    Distractions, propaganda, and deception are all about controlling the masses. Religion also works but it’s losing its edge with the masses. People are starting to realize there is no Humanoid Chief Architect commanding the Universe. The masses need to believe in something so they believe while they were asleep, Lizards were being helped by Liberals to overtake America and mold it into a giant snowflake.

    Muckrakers in the 20’s and 30’s didn’t have to contend with television when fighting yellow journalism. During my college football watching time, there is an ad for a giant TV screen with high def qualities and this guy is mesmerized on the detail…he can’t look away. This is the power TV screens have over the brain.

    If some guy on Fox News says they are the only fair and balanced channel out there, then guess what? “He can’t lie on TV.”

    Our brains have become mush. idiots are easy to manipulate. Goebbels is rolling over in his grave wanting access to the American people. He’d convince the masses to imprison all people of color by selling the masses they were working with Islam to overtake white Christians and set up Sharia law in the USA.

    Don’t laugh, we’re almost there…

  2. hey, 1984! bout time,i was expecting this during reagans spew. not hard to define,just keep looking over various media sites you trust,and see what happens next..maybe we,ll get fed soylent green next..fake,porn? when theres a glut of real,er,politics fake,when theres so much
    real spin? so many fake people,hiding behind social media……….now thats scary, im getting into my costume,a trucker,,,,,
    before you goul,make a move to vote before midnight……

  3. There is a simple solution to Trump’s “fake news” rants; the news I watch (MSNBC, CNN and local newscasts) are repeatedly showing Trump talking, Trump speeches, Trump rallies (39 since his inauguration, “whose minding the store”?), Trump name calling, Trump insulting entire groups of people, Trump removing immigrant children from parents, Trump repealing regulations, Trump removing the United States from pacts supporting peace and environmental control, Trump removing the United States from the UN Human Rights Commission, and on and on and on. Watch actual newscasts…including the ones where he denies saying or doing what we watched him say and do on actual news. He is the only “fake news” I have found.

    There are trusted fact checking options available; there are also actual government web sites available to the public. It isn’t always distrust which sends me to research reports; it is wanting full facts from the source. I’m sure all authorities are questioning the return address on all, so far, 10 letter bombs being that of Debbie Wasserman Schultz but I haven’t seen the public reaction to this. Who is the actual target, are there more letter bombs and who has access to these home addresses of government officials and former presidents? Rush Limbaugh lays the blame on the Democrats, Trump blames CNN.

    Isn’t “weaponizing of our brains” another name for “brainwashing”? And aren’t those “Deepfakes” high quality “photoshopping”? I have had a problem with my cell phone since Trump’s Presidential Alert; the notification of new messages has only one, dated October 3, 2018, the Presidential Alert. If the number of messages goes up; I have to go through the entire list of all contacts and pull up their site to see who messaged me. Periodically, the actual presidential alert pops up while I am texting or reading a test; NEVER a problem receiving texts before that “alert”. My daughter-in-law hasn’t had time to search for the problem to correct it. Being seriously technologically challenged I must wait till she can come to my rescue. This technology has definitely disrupted my personal and family life and the presidential source was announced to the nation in advance.

    “I’m imagining. And you’ll forgive me if I find Sasse’s solution–Americans have to stop distrusting each other–pretty inadequate, if not downright fanciful. On the other hand, I certainly don’t have a better solution to offer.”

    I agree with Sheila’s statement above…we must NOT stop distrusting our own president, his administration and the majority of Congress. Continuing distrust of the entire menagerie of Republicans in charge has only one solution available at this time:

    VOTE BLUE!

  4. We should re-institute the fairness doctrine and apply it to any outlet, internet included, that claims to broadcast news or offer up truth. We are drowning in lies and unless we change this our country will die.

  5. This year the sponsor list for FOX’s Sean Hannity show was easily downloadable from Facebook. How many people do you think really cared enough to print that list and complain to the companies underwriting his show of lies. Not many. People are lazy. Until the fox is at the door – too late – we will deny that the decline of America affects our personal world. We need real leaders who will tell the truth, no matter how painful, and motivate the masses to take actions which benefit all Americans – not just the 1%.

  6. Let’s all do what Ronald Reagan recommended: “Trust, but verify.” We have always had charlatans living among us, but their tools are getting more and more sophisticated. I find that interesting because their targets seem to get less and less sophisticated. We can only be led where we’re willing to go.

    VOTE BLUE!

  7. ?., looming threat? The greatest threat I see is the attempt at the RNC to create riot and violence in this country. The ad I just watched on CNBC funded by ‘future 45’ is a call to white nationalists and other drumpf followers to rise up violently against DEMOCRATS. Now… what looming threat? And this was on CNBC, national television…
    The real looming threat is that I might have to defend myself and my Wife from neighbors that are dyed in the wool supporters of a Fascist. If violence starts – it won’t be us Democrats bringing it – and a warning to those who think otherwise: This Nation is still the UNITED States of America – if you believe the rhetoric coming out of the White House and want to create violence – you will be stopped. We are a nation of LAWS. The lawless bastard(s) in the White House should remember that.

  8. Folks, let’s not get over-excited about the lying culture we inhabit. Unlike Smith’s memory hole in 1984, we still have millions who remember what democracy looks like and looked like before and I predict it will regain its footing shortly, sophisticated electronics and mush brains or no. I hope I’m not just dreaming that there is a reservoir of goodwill for democratic values in this country that, after this Trump cancer is removed, will reassert itself strongly, having just dodged the bullet to our Madisonian democracy. Now is no time to play into the hands of anti-democratic forces who would unless contained remove our hard-earned democracy; it is rather a time to do something about those who would remove this our most precious asset held in common – our democracy – by going to the polls and excising this fascist cancer on our way of life. Vote! Winning will not end greed and prevarication but it will provide us with a vehicle to contain them in favor of working for the common good, so let’s bring our friends, relatives, and neighbors to the polls and – Vote!

  9. Yes, democracy will be more challenging to maintain in the future than it was in the past. Every future has had its challenges and the one facing us is no different. Progress is the continuous improvement necessary to meet the more challenging future.

    Much of the threats of the topic here today could be mitigated by having government paying for all campaign advertising and have it limited to facts only useful to informed decision making. Can you imagine how little Republicans could say if they were limited to accomplishments only and not D bashing?

    First we have to get back to functional government before we can think about progress. That will take some strong awful tasting medicine like voting straight D’s in a couple of weeks and doing everything possible to overcome the advantages R’s built for themselves in managing the polling places and gerrymandering.

    That of course is only but a necessary step one. It will give us some hope to celebrate but only plant some seeds for what must follow to get through the upcoming economic collapse with our freedom intact.

  10. WHY DO CABLE NEWS PROGRAMS HARP ALL DAY ON THE SAME NEWS EVENT? You would think that with 24 hours of air time every day, cable news would try to cover something like 100 different news events. That would give each event about 15 minutes. BUT I AM TOLD THAT COVERING SO MANY EVENTS IS IMPOSSIBLE. Too expensive; those networks only have a few billion dollars to work with. So, we get news that is up to its hair follicles in the slime of the same story all day long.

    I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU. Check out this website http://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa , as I doubt that you can tune into their television programming from wherever you live.

    Here’s the skinny from Florida where we can get BAY NEWS 9. In fact, Bay News 9 comes on automatically every time we turn on our TV; who owns it, I have no idea, but it sets a standard we should pay attention to. Bay News 9 is on all day every day, and it covers at least seventy different news events per day — local, regional and national. It does it with ease, with a neutral approach, graciously, and does so without spending billions of dollars needlessly. Bay News 9 proves that a local news station can cover multiple stories every day, which ought to prove that a major national news network should be able to do the same. There is no excuse for the ineptitude of FOX, CNBC, CNN and other cable news outlets. No: wanting to be inept is not an excuse.

  11. As always, follow the money. The attention span shortens and the need for instant gratification drives the coverage and thus the advertisers’ dollars. It real is pretty simple een though deadly dangerous. The Roman despots knew that the pols needed to be constantly entertained and minimally fed in order to maintain their grip on power and the purse. Not much has changed except the speed and reach of the distractions.

  12. Larry Kaiser @ 12:25 pm >”WHY DO CABLE NEWS PROGRAMS HARP ALL DAY ON THE SAME NEWS EVENT? You would think that with 24 hours of air time every day, cable news would try to cover something like 100 different news events.”

    When Cable News first came on, they provided Headline News on many different stories. I cannot say for a certainty, when the decline actually happened. Now as you have observed the same story or slight variations are 24 hours in some studio or a link up to some other studio.

    Depending on the channel Fox, CNN or MSDNC the spin starts with pundits and “experts” brought in to validate the spinning. It is not News it is Infotainment, the content is sold like a product.

  13. We are becoming a world where healthy skepticism will be replaced by ‘don’t trust anyone’. So sad.

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