The Dual-Edged Sword of Deepfake Technology: Helpful or Harmful?

The Dual-Edged Sword of Deepfake Technology: Helpful or Harmful?

By Staff Writer, 06 June 2024

The rapid incrrease of deepfake technology has made it increasingly challenging to discern genuine content from manipulated media online. Despite the introduction of sophisticated deepfake detection tools by companies like OpenAI and Microsoft, there is widespread skepticism about their effectiveness due to the ease with which deepfake images and videos can be produced, often rendering them undetectable by current technologies.

However, beyond the concerns about deepfakes, there is a promising aspect that some experts believe could have significant benefits for social change and psychotherapy. Experts envision the integration of deepfake technology with virtual reality (VR) to address issues related to historical accuracy and personal trauma.

Aaron Painter, CEO of digital identity verification company Nametag, imagines a future where individuals can interact with the likenesses of historical figures to gain a deeper understanding of their actions and perspectives on contemporary events. This could transform how history is taught and experienced.

Davi Ottenheimer, Vice President of Trust and Digital Ethics at Inrupt, suggests using deepfake-enhanced VR to provide context to historical monuments with racist or bigoted undertones. For instance, an overlay could appear near a statue of Robert E. Lee, explaining its origins during the Jim Crow era and the motivations behind its erection to promote white supremacist views.

Ottenheimer also sees potential in using deepfakes to enrich war memorials by bringing to life the overlooked contributions of numerous American soldiers, offering a more comprehensive and engaging historical narrative.

In the realm of mental health, deepfake technology holds promise for therapeutic applications. Individuals who have experienced profound loss or traumatic events could use deepfake imagery to confront and process their emotions. A 2022 report indicated that sexual assault survivors responded positively to using deepfake technology to face their past perpetrators.

Painter highlights the potential of deepfakes to help people cope with the loss of loved ones by recreating their likenesses, allowing their memory and experiences to serve as a source of comfort and support. Additionally, deepfake technology could assist high achievers and self-critical individuals by creating AI versions of themselves to handle tasks they cannot complete.

Despite these potential benefits, the need for effective deepfake detection remains critical. Fraudsters can create realistic images and voices that mimic loved ones, posing significant risks. Experts like Painter urge users to remain vigilant online while the technology evolves to become more reliable and accepted.

Source: Tanya Chen / Fast Company

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