Is society getting deeply faked by the use of technology to solve problems…

…that might arguably not have needed solving, or, in other cases, could have been addressed by adopting societal, rather than technological, approaches?

This article in the New York Times]( describes the legal and ethical problems arising in some countries (China and the USA are specifically mentioned in the context of action being explored) with regulating the abuse of ‘deepfake’ videos: digitally altered videos that change either the speech, actions or the faces of the persons in the original.

Such ‘improvement’ of videos can and is being widely (the technology is new, accessible, and getting adopted disturbingly quickly) abused either for political or commercial (primarily, for pornography) gain.

In both scenarios, the outcome is potentially terrible for society. Tampering with political processes, particularly with the selection of legislative representatives, or destroying the balance in society by implying through faked images that particular men or women are involved with pornography, are the obvious sources of damage.

This technology was created in order to feed a market in commercial film making that allows unreal scenarios to be made to appear filmed in reality. Many people have enjoyed the remarkable sense of reality of traveling in outer space, or deep underwater, or recreating long extinct life forms.

Such markets are, often enough, the justification for developing new technologies. To be clear, developing very often does not mean creating something new, but to take ordinary scientific knowledge and to find a commercial purpose for it.

In this case, the purpose was, by and large, entertainment. In India, we have a word for it, time-pass, whose larger meaning almost immediately springs to mind.

Other technologies include transporting people from place to place faster (roads, tracks, cars, trains and aeroplanes), whose use of fossil fuels helps to numb the public to the planetary impact, but an impact that is largely contributed by commercial manufacturing and service industries (goods and energy distribution) with whom very few are actually involved. Note that the former, manufacturing, is hugely assisted by people-substituting technologies, whose increasing presence is also called development.

It is definitely time more people took an interest in the deep faking of that word, and made a real effort to apply it to the use of technology and systems that actually help to sustain human life and the environment.