As a background, human communication has undergone tremendous developments in the past 30 years. It started with the Internet, and was followed closely by the smartphone and social media; three modes of communication that completely changed the information ecosystem and how we understand and interpret events.
Then, just as we were getting used to engaging them in our daily life, Synthetic Medium was born 3-4 years ago.
Synthetic Medium relies on the ability of artificial intelligence and the use of special effects to synthetically create fake videos and audios that look and sound so authentic that it is not possible to realize that they’re not real. It takes advantage of the fact that we as humans are psychologically wired to believe that “if I see it with my own eyes and if I hear it with my own ears then it must be true.”
We have therefore entered into a new synthetic world where the organic or real world in which we currently live is slowly merging with the digital world. More and more of the images we are seeing online are created and manipulated digitally; they may not be real.
Synthetic look-alikes, also called synthetic avatars, synthetic doubles, synthetic puppets, or digital twins are now being created. These look-alikes can be used on social media or on Zoom calls; if for some reason you do feel not groomed well enough to take that Zoom call, all you do is to use a synthetic puppet of yourself whereby your real lip and facial movements when you speak are synced with those of the puppet. The participants in the Zoom call will only see the puppet speaking; what they do not know is that a look-alike puppet of yourself has been created to be your representation in the meeting.
This means that, in the digital world, we will soon be inundated with a growing presence of synthetic doubles; not the real persons. This is already happening targeting society influencers and celebrities in art, culture, film, and fashion. It is also possible for the deceased to be brought back to life through synthetic reincarnation or resurrection.
Unfortunately, though, malicious use of deep-fake has already been documented. Examples include digital sexual abuse using deep-fake where faces of normal people are swapped to get pornographic footage; cyber security threats where individuals impersonate another person using a synthetic voice replica, or a synthetic face replica, or both to extort money; or for political purposes where digital twins are created that say something that the real person would never say.
And then, thanks to the Internet and this information ecosystem, it has never been easier for Synthetic Mediums, misinformation, and disinformation to travel faster, and further.