The Possible Crisis Before Us: How Deepfakes Could Combine With AI, Blockchain, Quantum and Other Threats
Note: The top image for this story is a series of deepfake images from ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com.
Acceleration in digital processes, products and services has created many new and innovative digital solutions, some good and some not so good. We have faced political, digital marketing and health care challenges that created an opportunity for a new digital hybrid workforce, which accelerated the use of many new audio and visual communications tools. During this innovative and challenging period, deepfakes were one of those unique products that entered the market. What are deepfakes? They are exactly what they sound like; the technology is profound because it infers “deep learning” through machine learning (ML). They are fake, “not real.” The technology intends to produce fake images, video and audio that have the primary objective of manipulating receivers into believing these artifacts are authentic. Deepfakes have become an infamous tool used to create fake digital material that is being used in evil ways throughout our society and has also become a “weapon of choice” for cybercriminals and nation-state adversaries worldwide. Rapid advancements in computer vision technologies, coupled with manipulated sounds and signals, combined and converged with other technologies create a digital challenge to our military, law enforcement, legal and health care systems, to name a few.
Blockchain is another new technology that operates on multiple protocols. It’s challenging to implement, and multimodel enterprise environments would need an “integration layer” to bridge Hyperleger and Ethereum, the two current protocols being used for the technology. In my old legacy enterprise resource planning systems deployments, we called this model a service-oriented architecture. Any cybersecurity expert would tell you there is a cybersecurity vulnerability and threat anywhere there is an interface. There is a misconception that blockchain cannot be “hacked,” which is far from the truth; this technology is vulnerable to new higher levels of digital innovation that we will address as well. In my opinion, the top four risks related to blockchain are:
- Blockchain security and protection
- Key management (specifically private keys)
- Regulations and compliance (SEC and cryptocurrency issues as an example)
- Privacy and chain management
- Dynamic integration, interoperability and risk mitigation
In business, the risk is average and part of the ongoing concern of doing business; the most important fact here is that risk must be continuously monitored and mitigated. In today’s hyperdigital world, it is not accomplished at the highest performance levels.
For this article, we are going to address generative artificial intelligence (GAI) because it includes ML, which is required to generate “holograms” such as deepfakes.
Chat GPT is one of the most popular and recent artificial intelligence (AI), and the GPT stands for generative pretrained transformer. Developed and produced by OpenAI, this chatbot is considered by many to be the best out in public purview as of today and can answer almost any question you ask.
Many of our newer transportation systems and electric vehicles are now taking advantage of this innovation and incorporating it into many systems that are improving the everyday lives of many, especially in health care, manufacturing and newer sustainable energy systems.
AI replicates human intelligence, and ML does precisely what its name describes: it “learns” based on labels and models that researchers have given it. There are several types of AI, some under development that will be the far advanced version of GPT types and may have the capability to think and feel emotions as humans do. Like blockchain, AI has risks, and nefarious actors can use this technology to create disinformation; cause chaos, confusion and criminal activity; respond; and publish disgusting material which may be offensive, biased and unethical. As we have seen in the news in recent years, various political groups use AI to spread misinformation and sway public sentiment on various political issues. Many of these groups have successfully used AI as the misinformation weapon of choice. As with blockchain, we have risks with AI, and they are:
- Data reliability as a “single source of truth”
- Digital technology and culture
- Security, both physical and cyber
- Interoperability and human interface
All of these risks can do massive harm to individuals, property and the public, including public safety and our ability of our military to protect the nation and secure the future today and tomorrow. Like all risks, they can be mitigated, but as the research advances, we must be as dynamic with risk mitigation as we are with digital innovation. This includes regulatory government and compliance bodies, which makes governance risk and compliance at the executive and board level very important in moderating the impact of the entire organization and being clear that it is not just an IT issue but a human and bottom-line impact issue.
Quantum computing is an accelerating and emerging innovative technology that removes the barriers of classical laws of physics and ushers in a new era of quantum mechanics to solve complex issues and concerns. Powerful super-quantum computers and advances in combining software and quantum mechanics orchestration now allow us to do things that scientists and researchers never thought possible in their lifetimes.
Risks associated with quantum computing are:
- Today’s encryption will be useless. Quantum will have the capability to “decrypt” in minutes, if not seconds.
- New technology like blockchain will be vulnerable as well.
- A shortage of helium is required to keep quantum computers cool.
- The security of today will be very vulnerable, and newly undiscovered attack vectors will be exposed with little or no response
- Quantum will advance rapidly and be so cost prohibitive that many, including businesses and the general population, will be left behind. There will be a “quantum divide” and an “us versus them” scenario.
In conclusion, we will have a crisis when you converge these compelling and innovative technologies to accomplish something devastating to the public or public safety. Given the unmitigated risks and governance mitigation of these risks, we need to all be very concerned about the speed of deployment of innovative, sophisticated technology tools without creating some worst-case responses and mitigating scenarios about controlling and mitigating the risks.
I believe the time is now to have some courageous conversations, centers of excellence and national and international forums about the risk that deepfakes present once they converge with newer innovative technologies and quantum functionality.
In basic modeling, there is form, function and emergence, and then it goes in the opposite direction; it will be an emergency!