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Big Revolution - Deeply troubling

Welcome to Friday's Big Revolution. I very nearly preordered an iPhone Xs Max this morning, but I dec
September 14 · Issue #201 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s Big Revolution. I very nearly preordered an iPhone Xs Max this morning, but I decided to be sensible and wait to see the Pixel 3 properly first, when Google officially unveils in on October 9th. Being cautious is never quite as fun as acting on impulse though, is it?

Big things you need to know today
  • Jeff Bezos has announced a philanthropic drive to launch a network of preschools where, weirdly, “the child is the customer.”
The big thought
A still from a fake video of Barack Obama, produced as a demo by BuzzFeed News
Deeply troubling
The news that lawmakers in the US are concerned about the threat of ‘deep fakes’ is surprising. They’ve identified a threat posed by new technology before it’s become a serious problem – that’s rare when it comes to politicians.
But like automation threatening jobs, it seems politicians realise there’s a real need to get to grips with deep fakes. Deep fakes are computer-generated videos and audio, based on real footage of a person. Imagine the impact of a convincing video of Donald Trump declaring nuclear war, except he’d actually done no such thing.
An even bigger threat is from 'evidence’ of things that aren’t easily disproven. Take a video of a politician confessing to a crime in private, for example. Even if it was a complete fabrication, the signal to doubt the trustworthiness of that individual would have been seeded in many people’s minds.
And the potential for fraud on individuals outside public life is notable. Catch someone off guard with a convincing 'phone call’ from a relative asking for emergency cash and they may fall for it.
Now, the US politicians who raised this issue are mainly concerned about deep fakes as a national security issue – foreign powers using the technology to influence Americans. But the domestic threats from this tech (which is likely to soon be good enough and cheap enough for widespread use) are perhaps more serious.
The question is, how do you legislate against this? If you can catch offenders after the fact then you can prosecute them, but it may be impossible to stop deep fakes from permeating society. And we’ll have to get used to never quite knowing for sure how real something is. Our understanding of the world may never be the same again.
One big read
Boomberg takes a look at why Google cofounder Larry Page is increasingly low-key. As they put it, “he’s exercising his right to be forgotten.”
One big tweet
Edward Snowden may spend his life in hiding, but yesterday he had reason to celebrate.
Edward Snowden
For five long years, governments have denied that global mass surveillance violates of your rights. And for five long years, we have chased them through the doors of every court. Today, we won. Don't thank me: thank all of those who never stopped fighting.
12:44 PM - 13 Sep 2018
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow for a weekend edition. In the meantime, don’t forget:
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