Social media is a recent global phenomenon that has connected us like never before. Although, it has also played a huge role in fragmenting our online and real world relationships by reinforcing individual biases and perspectives. It’s a 24/7 digital information highway hosting everything from large reputable networks to obscure bedroom conspiracy theorists all vying for your attention.
To add to our vulnerability, our online interactions utilise only two of our human senses, sight and sound, leaving us open to manipulations and deception. Our social and political arenas have already experienced the truth hollowed out for the purpose of causing misinformation and confusion.
We now have ‘deep fakes’ to contend with.
A deep fake refers to the synthesis of realistic media like images, sound or video using AI. Machine learning algorithms integrates and superimposes existing digital media onto raw photos or videos to create convincingly deceptive and misleading fakes. These persuasive overlaying techniques have allowed Deeps fakes to spread all over the internet, being misused to create fake news, hoaxes, explicit videos, and financial fraud. By synthesising and overlaying digital material with the source footage, deep fakes can fool people into believing a person has said or done something that they haven't actually done. Deep fakes can cause irreparable damage to an individual, company or government as it has the potential to shape public opinion, political issues and could even escalate into military conflict. Deep fakes also offer perpetrators and guilty parties of misinformation or even illicit activities the ability to dispute their actions, blaming a deep fake instead. This will profoundly undermine our belief systems and trustworthiness of any online content.
Blockchain technology has already figured out how to authenticate digital content. Anyone who has made a transaction on a public blockchain has done so using their crypto wallet. A crypto wallet is essentially your public and private keys that verify you as the owner of that wallet address.
A public key is a unique identifier associated with a wallet that is used to receive funds or verify transactions you make. Public keys are intended to be shared openly to facilitate exchanges of virtual tokens.
A private key on the other hand, is a secret, randomly generated string of characters that provides access to the funds stored in a crypto wallet. It is essentially the password to your wallet. Private keys are generated using sophisticated cryptographic algorithms and must be kept confidential and secure.
These key pairs (public and private) are mathematically linked, derived from something called an Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA). The use of ECDSA as an authentication method is an excellent tool to assist with digital content verifications. So, anyone creating digital media can integrate ECDSA to sign the content that they upload to a blockchain, keeping it protected from any unauthorised edits to the original file. The resilient security feature inherent in blockchains have been securing trillions of dollars in virtual tokens, the same can be applied to digital media. You essentially have a cryptographic way to sign-off on digital media so that the creator's intended image, sound or video stays true and authentic to what their intentions are.
As we move into an online world where adversarial deep fakes proliferate, blockchains, as one form of encryption technology, will become a trusted infrastructure.