Do you remember the first time you stumbled upon your first deepfake video? Did you watch in amazement as a familiar celebrity appeared on-screen, saying and doing things that seemed both plausible and surreal all at once. How did you deal with the realization that it was all artificially created? Were you inspired, terrified, or both by the potential implications of this powerful technology?
A week doesn’t pass where the old adage "when I was your age, we didn't have..." doesn’t apply in the age of AI. The technological advancements of our generation have far outpaced those of previous. There has been an outstanding evolution of the media landscape, and it may be that 2022 was the last year of synthetic media (content created by AI) being the minority of what we view online, versus the majority
It was Albert Einstein who said, "the human spirit must prevail over technology." I find this quote more relevant than ever as we venture into the realm of synthetic media. These content generation tools have taken the world by storm, with everything from AI-written articles, deepfakes to artificially generated music. It's an exciting yet frightening new dawn.
Random fact time: did you know that synthetic media can be traced back to the 1960s, where an early computer program called ELIZA simulated a human-like conversation? It serves as a shocking reminder of how far we've come since then.
On the one hand, there's no denying the extraordinary potential of synthetic media. For people like me, who struggle to find time to edit content for spelling and grammar, AI-aided writing can be an invaluable tool for creating more engaging and error-free content. Meanwhile, artists are exploring new creative avenues through AI-generated music.
Moreover, the technology has the potential to revolutionize industries, leading to incredible innovation and development. One example of this is the film industry, where synthetic media could significantly reduce costs by substituting for expensive special effects and eliminating the need for costly reshoots.
But every rose has its thorn, and synthetic media is no exception. The rise of realistic deepfakes presents a particularly unnerving issue. The power to manipulate audiovisual content could very well fall into the wrong hands, with malicious individuals creating fake videos to sow discord or deceive the public.
This dark side of synthetic media not only threatens the future of journalism, but it also fuels growing anxiety around the disappearance of truth in the digital age. As the lines continue to blur between reality and fiction, we must ask ourselves: can we trust anything we see or hear anymore?
And the Beautiful
It's important to remember that, like any emerging technology, synthetic media is neither entirely good nor entirely bad. Just like when Gutenberg's printing press emerged in the 15th century, there is both potential for progress and for harm. It simply depends on how humanity chooses to harness this newfound power.
Indeed, as these technologies develop and become more accessible, it's vital that we continue to have open and honest conversations about the ethical implications and the necessary regulations to ensure their responsible use.
One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Sir Isaac Newton, who said, "We build too many walls and not enough bridges." In this rapidly changing digital landscape, let's build bridges of understanding and trust, steering away from the negative implications of synthetic media, guiding it towards enhancing authentic human connections and expression.
As we collectively navigate these murky waters of technological development, I urge all of us to remember the lessons of our past, remain grounded in our values, and embrace the future with cautious optimism. After all, the power to create a brighter tomorrow lies within our very own human spirit, the very same one that Einstein knew should prevail.
This was written in partnership with ChatGPT.