The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Deepfake: a video of a person in which their face or body has been digitally altered so that they appear to be someone else, typically used maliciously or to spread false information.
Over the past decade, ‘deepfakes’ have increased in prevalence across the media landscape and social platforms. Individuals, non-state actors, and organizations utilize technology in coordinated efforts to influence specific events, policies, and even market conditions. Furthermore, these dynamics have not been limited to governments or large organizations. The proliferation of technology and capabilities have empowered individuals and smaller groups with tools traditionally reserved for large actors, leading to equally disruptive outcomes.
What is real? What is manipulated? How do democracies safeguard against misinformation or disinformation campaigns? How do we as individuals navigate this challenging information environment? Please join the Intelligence Project and a distinguished panel of experts as we grapple with these questions and others to better understand deepfakes across society. Moderated by Michael Miner of the Intelligence Project, panelists include:
Beth Sanner is a Senior Fellow at The Belfer Center and was the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Mission Integration from April 2019 to March 2021 where she oversaw the elements that coordinate and lead collection, analysis, and program oversight throughout the Intelligence Community. In this role she also served as the President’s intelligence briefer. Previously she served for two years as the Director of the President’s Daily Brief and nearly three years as Counselor and Vice Chair of the National Intelligence Council. Sanner is now a Professor of Practice at the University of Maryland's Applied Research Lab for Intelligence Security and consults geopolitical risks and opportunities. Widely recognized for her influence on national intelligence strategy and policy, Sanner received the Presidential Rank Award—the highest honor granted to civil servants—in 2021 and is the recipient of the highest Intelligence Community award, the Distinguished Intelligence Service Medal.
Matthew Ferraro advises clients on matters related to defense and national security, cybersecurity, and crisis management at WilmerHale. He counsels clients, writes, and speaks on the threat that digital disinformation and deepfakes pose to corporations, brands and markets an area of practice he has termed disinformation and deepfakes risk management (DDRM). His articles on these topics have appeared in The Washington Post, CNN Lawfare, Corporate Counsel, The Hill, Law360, Brunswick Review and Studies in Intelligence, the CIA’s journal, among others. He also authored the chapter on disinformation and deepfakes in the ABA Cybersecurity Handbook (3rd ed.).
Britt Paris is a critical informatics scholar using methods from discourse analysis and qualitative social science to study how groups build, use, and understand information systems according to their values, and how these systems influence evidentiary standards and political action. She has published work on Internet infrastructure projects, digital labor, and civic data, analyzed through the lenses of critical, feminist, and de-colonial theory. She has her MA in Media Studies from the New School in New York City and her PhD in Information Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, she is an assistant professor of library and information science at Rutgers School of Communication and Information.