Former U.S. president Barack Obama speaking directly to a camera and calling current U.S. President Donald Trump “a total and complete dipshit.”
But it never actually happened.
The video was produced and voiced by director Jordan Peele and Buzzfeed to warn people of an emerging technology that can make it seem as though people are saying or doing things they never did.
Convincing fake videos like that are just one of the reasons a specialized team at the U.S. Department of Defence is investing tens of millions of dollars to develop competing technology that would automatically spot manipulated videos and images. The Department of Defence says this technology can have an impact on national security.
Matt Turek, manager of the media forensics program at the department’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), told CBC’s The Fifth Estate that “in some sense it’s easier to generate a manipulation now than it is to detect it.”
Part of the agency’s goal is to anticipate what they call “strategic surprise” and the impact technology will have on the world, Turek says. They came to the conclusion that the capability to manipulate images automatically and without skill “was probably going to arrive sooner rather than later.”
Turek says the U.S. government’s adversaries could be anyone at this point.
“Could be an individual, could be low resource groups, could be … more organized groups and nation states certainly. But I will point out that nation states have always had the capability to manipulate media.”