Paying the Liar’s Dividend in School Safety
On July 3, 2019, Dr. Perrodin presented School Safety in America: Rhetoric Vs. Reality on Wisconsin Public Television. During that presentation, he identified weaponized deepfakes as the biggest threat to student safety and that the incentive to use deepfakes to target students might be as simple as “The Liar’s Dividend.” WHAT IS THE LIAR’S DIVIDEND? A classic example of the liar’s dividend, which goes back to early reports that cigarettes were linked to cancer. In response, the tobacco industry relied on journalism’s honorable tendency to report “both sides of the story,” and went on to suggest there were legitimate doubts about the validity of that scientific research. WHAT IS THE DIVIDEND? In the May 17, 2019 article “The Liar’s Dividend is dangerous by journalists. Here’s How to Fight it” by Kelly McBride, she states: “This is a bigger problem than the Oxygen Theory, which argues that by debunking a falsehood, journalists give the claim a longer life. The Liar’s Dividend suggests that in addition to fueling the flames of falsehoods, the debunking efforts actually legitimize the debate over the veracity. This creates smoke and fans suspicions among at least some in the audience that there might well be something true about the claim. That’s the “dividend” paid to the perpetrator of the lie. WHY IS THE LIAR’S DIVIDEND THE TOP THREAT TO SCHOOLS? The Liar’s Dividend has always been around in the form of false accusations to dent the recipient’s reputation or incorporated into social media bullying. When a student, for example, posts intentional misinformation about another student, he or she is also planting doubts. “I don’t think Carol would say those things about her friends when she was at Terry’s party, but maybe she did?” ANYONE CAN BE TARGETED. We have a new player in the game. Avatar realism has been around since 2011 and progressively becomes more lifelike. One of these popular avatars is Miquela Sousa. She doesn’t exist. She’s a CGI image with a team of engineers, marketers and dreamers posting to her various social media feeds. Avatars of this nature have proven to be largely the tool of marketers. However, they also have been hacked. The damage won’t be delivered from avatars, but from the newest threat known as deepfakes. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN AVATAR AND A DEEPFAKE? A deepfake will target a person by falsely representing them while an avatar is a computer generated fake person. So, a deepfake image is you – looks like you, talks like you, but probably doesn’t convey an authentic message. Both present risks to student safety, but the deepfakes can tactically be used to target other students, teachers, school administrators or parents. ERODE TRUST. Students should learn to skeptical consumers of information, but deepfakes are going to pit student against student or student against teacher or everyone in education against the integrity of information. Did the teacher really say that, or was the video of his rant a deepfake generated with $250 software – and now the teacher in on leave as the school conducts an investigation. The Liar’s Dividend paid to the accuser. As schools spend more than $3 billion per year in school fortifications, the reality is that nothing is being done to prepare for deepfakes and once they arrive, we won’t be able to fortify ourselves to safety. What the solution? Nobody knows. However, the intelligence community predicts that deepfakes will infiltrate all levels of society by 2022 and most people won’t be able to identify a deepfake from an authentic recording. FOLLOW DR. PERRODIN: Twitter @SafetyPhD and subscribe to The Safety Doc YouTube channel & Apple Podcasts. SAFETY DOC WEBSITE & BLOG: www.safetyphd.com The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD. ENDORSEMENTS. Opinions are those of the host & guests. The show adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward productive discourse & debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety. Email David: email@example.com LOOKING FOR DR. TIMOTHY LUDWIG, PHD? Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.com This is episode 102.
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