What would it mean to have people who weren’t just academics in an environment true to the highest ideals of academia? Of solving problems, of examining questions and our own assumptions about answers to those questions?
We’re focused on what we call countering foreign influence but really what we’re trying to do is build national resilience to foreign influence activities. And so for us a lot of what we do is public education and public awareness outreach to different communities, provide resources that folks can use to better understand both the risk and then ways to mitigate the risk.
It’s been really interesting to see the entire world pay attention to one topic. This is something somewhat unprecedented. We have had outbreaks in the era of social media misinformation before. Zika in 2015, Ebola 2018, right. So there have been a range of moments in which diseases have captivated public attention. But usually they tend to stay at least somewhat geographically confined in terms of attention.
Deepfakes, even as a concept, continue to grow and develop. So we’re not seeing that just what we know now as deepfakes is where it stops. This is going to continue to develop as time goes by.
I’m pretty nervous about the 2020 elections. We’ve seen a lot of little deepfakes here and there. And I suspect it’s not going to surprise you to say that I’m worried that things are going to get far far worse and far more nuanced.
Today, because of the digital media, big companies are able to get their propaganda directly to their target audiences, as I was able to do. They can and they do publish and disseminate their own press releases, and their own studies, and their own position papers. All this means that the consumer is often, if not most of the time, at a big disadvantage.