Rep. Hurd: We're Not Prepared to Deal With Deep Fake Technology

By Susan Jones | May 28, 2019 | 10:32 AM EDT

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

( - Democrats and Republicans agree that the Russians did try to influence the 2016 election, and they'll try to do it again, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

"And how are we dealing with disinformation?" he asked. "Do we have a strategy on how to deal with disinformation?"

Host Margaret Brennan asked Hurd if he was troubled by an altered video that made the rounds last week, appearing to show Nancy Pelosi slurring her words.

"As a Republican, did it trouble you that the president himself and some of his allies were tweeting out an altered video?" Brennan asked Hurd.

"There's a lot of things that's concerning with that video of Speaker Pelosi," Hurd said.

And it was just slowed down to make it seem like she was having a hard time speaking. This wasn't even a deep fake.

You know, we've been hearing a lot about deep fakes, which is the use of artificial intelligence in order to create something new. In this case, at least we had the original to compare the two and recognize that it was -- it was -- it was doctored in a form or fashion.

And soon, and I think within months, we're going to be able to see this deep fake technology continue to grow. And we're going to see that more. And that -- we're not prepared. We have old laws to decide how you handle disinformation. You have leaders that don't understand how this technology can be used in the future.

This goes back into this whole conversation around disinformation and how are we dealing with it? And it's not just the government alone. It's not just the social media companies.

It's also the media, academia involved in trying to do this. And also we can't be promoting this stuff. And if you can't tell the difference between a doctored piece of information and not, that's -- that's troubling as well.

One year ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sounded the alarm about deep fake technology at a hearing of the Senate intelligence committee:

"A deep fake is the ability to manipulate sound images or video to make it appear that a certain person did something that they didn't do," Rubio explained at the time.

He said the videos are increasingly realistic, thanks to advances in technology.

"I think you can only imagine what a nation-state could do with that technology, particularly to our politics," Rubio said.

If we could imagine for a moment, a foreign intelligence agency could use deep fakes to produce a fake video of an American politician using a racial epithet or taking a bribe, or anything of that nature.

They could use a fake video of a U.S. soldier massacring civilians overseas. They could use a fake video of a U.S. official admitting a secret plan to do some conspiracy theory of some kind. They could use a fake video of a prominent official discussing some sort of impending disaster that could sow panic.

And imagine a compelling video like this, produced on the eve of an election or a few days before a major public policy decision, with a culture that has already a kind of a built-in bias towards believing outrageous things; a media that is quick to promulgate it and spread it; and of course social media, where you can't stop its spread.

I believe that this is the next wave of attacks against America and western democracies is the ability to produce fake videos that can only be determined to be fake after extensive analytical analysis, and by then the election's over, and millions of Americans have seen an image that they want to believe anyway because of their preconceived bias against that individual.

Hurd, a former CIA officer, said the altered Pelosi video "is going to escalate this debate and this fight. And, again, this is something that gets at the heart of our democracy and when it comes to disinformation."

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