philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Why Are Deepfakes So Effective? Its because we want them to be true.

C1294E2A-49D3-4B14-BF6E16F90B3D541B_sourceFueled by advances in AI and spread over the tentacles of social media, deep fakes may prove to be among the most destabilizing of forces humankind has faced in generations.

After showing over 3,000 adults fake images accompanied by fabricated text, a group of researchers reached two conclusions. First, the more online experience and familiarity with digital photography one had, the more skeptical the person evaluating the information was. Second, confirmation bias—the tendency to frame new information to support our pre-existing beliefs—was a big factor in how people judged the veracity of the fake information.

Deep fakes work so well because they have large audiences willing to believe and spread them. We often see what we want to be true—a desirability bias.

To understand how a well-executed deep fake could play into desirability bias, consider these vignettes. The first is a video of a high school student that went viral on Twitter in January. Many saw a smug young man mocking a tribal elder. Others saw a nervous teenager not knowing how to react in a strange situation. This was unaltered footage. What was missing was context—the truth was more complex.

Psychologists found that repeating the same message boosts the propaganda effect through a process called priming. The more you are exposed to a statement, the likelier you are to rate it as true.

One of the best works is Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, written by Richards Heuer, a longtime CIA officer.

Two of Heuer's key points are that being aware of cognitive biases is not enough. You also have to apply methods that foster higher levels of critical thinking, such as structuring information using decision trees and causal diagrams, and by challenging assumptions.

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