Posted by Roger Mallett Posted on 30 June 2024

The Spread of Artificial Intelligence. The Emergence of “Deep Fakes”, Masterful Distortions. “Who Controls the Past Controls the Future”

George Orwell was spot on when he wrote that “who controls the past controls the future.” The remarkable advances of Artificial Intelligence technology appear to bear him out. But they confirm also the correctness of the rest of his prescient remark, which is cited less often, that “who controls the present controls the past.” That also seems confirmed, as we shall see presently.

Artificial intelligence has rightfully become the subject of great controversy, even though it is still early to fully assess its impact. Yet with each passing day the problematic, and some would even say nefarious, aspects of its uses are becoming increasingly evident.

One of the chief concerns regarding Artificial Intelligence is its pretension to supersede and consign to a state of permanent subservience its human counterpart. Another is the danger it poses to workmen. Their jobs will become largely obsolete and incomes will diminish or disappear once employers discover that the operations human workers were performing for a salary can be done at minimum or no expense by the entity we are becoming accustomed to call Artificial Intelligence, or AI.

Clearly, the uncontrolled spread of AI is taking humanity to uncharted waters.

A bizarre illustration is the recent candidacy of an AI entity for mayor of Cheyenne in the US state of Wyoming. Good luck to the good and supposedly conservative people of Cheyenne if they do not have a qualified human candidate amongst them to vote for.

This is just one of the levels where common sense should dictate extreme caution before uncritically engaging some of the potential AI applications. There is however another and more ominous application that is proliferating on the internet. Unlike the previous example, it is not in the least entertaining but should cause alarm and intense unease.

That is the emergence of “deep fakes,” masterful distortions of reality so convincingly executed that even the most advanced forensic tools, let alone the unaided human faculties, would find it nearly impossible to detect the deception.

Within the genus of what has come to be known as deep fakes a specific and sinister class has emerged that is saturating the internet. It does not aim to inflict the usual annoyances such as altering an individual’s appearance, making him do or say things that in real life he never would, or depicting him credibly in a compromising situation for the purpose of discreditation. Instead of generating banal personal fakes, it does something that causes incomparably more harm. It deliberately falsifies the historical record by erasing the distinction between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood. It misleads the uninformed and the gullible by manufacturing events that theoretically could have, but never did happen.

The phony “October 1963” CBS news report about the supposed outbreak of the German civil war is a case in point. Everything about it is impressively realistic but it is false history, a fabrication cut from whole cloth. The underlying message of the “news broadcast” read by legendary CBS announcer Walter Cronkite is that Germany was not defeated in World War II but achieved its major war aims, including control of Europe, substantial conquests in the East, and the restoration of its African colonies. According to this false scenario in World War II it is Russia that was defeated and compelled to withdraw to the east, perhaps to the other side of the Urals since Moscow is mentioned as a district under German rule. After Hitler’s death, presumably of natural causes, a power struggle ensues amongst his lieutenants. The “victorious” Germany is portrayed as a robust nuclear power that even the United States fears to antagonise.

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