The End of Trust

I listened to a Radiolab podcast recently about some new technologies. One is called Adobe Voco. Voco allows you to easily manipulate audio of another person. You can even make someone say something they never said before. The other technology lets you create a video of someone saying something they have never said before. Sort of like video puppetry. (See example)

Without going into the details, this kind of technology can be used to create fake audio or video. Remember that “Grab em by the pussy” audio of Donald Trump? If that happened today, I bet he would claim that it’s “fake audio”. It’s Voco.

So if I can’t trust audio and I can’t trust video and I can’t trust what I read…what can I trust? Only what I see with my own eyes?

The world is getting more and more skeptical of “facts” and “science” for exactly this reason. Our trust has been misplaced and misused so many times that we can’t believe anything at all. Is the world round? Is Climate Change real? I don’t even know if I exist or am just a virtual being in a SIM game.

And yet, I have hope. Right now, there is a steady stream of fake news and confirmation bias on the web. I think this is making us sick. Like a virus, it is attacking our ability to live and be sane. Also, like a virus, we will build up antibodies. We will build up an immune system. It may take a generation, but we survive this plague of lies and misinformation. A future generation will understand what is real and what is not. They will do more research and understand how to balance out conflicting information. They will become savvy.

I have hope in the future that although blind trust may be completely lost, qualified trust may be restored.

If not, then I am afraid that we will spiral into a chaotic mess. Hopefully, civilization is up to the task.