The Currency of In-Person Meetings Sky-Rockets as Deepfakes Take Hold

That’s not a real headline…not yet at least.

Artificial Intelligence has been rapidly increasing in sophistication. What seemed impossible a few years ago, is now filling our newsfeed and the easily distinguishable ‘robotic’ voices have stepped up with the advent of the ‘deepfake’ video phenom, first coined in 2017.

Deepfake, is a combination of ‘deep learning’ , a key part of the machine learning in AI and, well, ‘fake’. In other words, it is the ability to superimpose a few existing images and videos with a machine learning technique that essentially recreates fresh content as though the individuals in question were actually saying, or doing, those things.

Like this:

Click to view video - Bill Hadler channels Tom Cruise [Deepfake]

Click to view video - Bill Hadler channels Tom Cruise [Deepfake]

The dangers of this type of impersonating technology, are fairly obvious. When paired with media consumption behaviors and a general lack of verification in the way most individuals absorb important news content, once it becomes impossible to tell if a video is real, or a deepfake, we are playing with very hot fire.

As I have been learning more about these types of technologies, the benefits and the threats, one thought continues to gain in strength: more so than ever, the currency of an in-person conversation, or meeting, a live presentation or event, will continue to increase as AI potentially erodes the trust we place in what we see online.

In a world of AI, our human experience, our person-to-person connections become increasingly valuable as the tangible constructs that they are. It is easy to see how in-person conversations can take a hit when technologies like skype, zoom and facetime make in-person meetings less and less relevant. However, we must be aware of this trend and ensure that face-to-face opportunities are intentionally built into our daily professional and personal experience.

As efficient as it might seem, I challenge you to take note of just how many in-person conversations you forgo for the slightly more efficient video or phone based interaction. In some cases, these online conversations are necessary - it certainly won’t do to fly all across the globe for a quick and easy conversation. However, I think you will also find that there are opportunities for getting up and walking over to your colleague’s desk or setting up an in-person coffee/walking meeting instead of a video chat.

While I am in no way averse to advancements in tech, nor am I saying that we are all at immediate risk of being impersonated online, it is imperative that we don’t allow certain developments to outweigh some of the very things that define our humanity - communication, physicality and, of course, presence.

Rachel Cossar