'Deep Fakes' Will Only Thicken the Fog of War.

Author:Magnuson, Stew

For those who may have missed the news, it turns out that a second Marine in the iconic Mount Suribachi-Iwo Jima flag raising photo went misidentified for 75 years. The flag raiser thought to be Pfc. Rene Gagnon was actually Cpl. Harold Keller, the Marine Corps announced last fall.

It's just another example of the "fog of war," but one that came in a simpler time.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning photo was taken with black-and-white film and was at first declared as the moment Marines took the mountain. We now know that this was actually the second flag raising that day as the first flag was deemed too small.

Yet it was an inspirational photo for Americans, and probably disheartening for anyone in Japan who may have seen it. The fact that images can be powerful in wartime hasn't changed over the past 75 years. But technology has.

Anyone with a smartphone has the ability to take still and video images. Surveillance devices are proliferating, with cameras installed in doorbells peering out in neighborhoods 24/7. Government-owned spy satellites were once the only means to look down onto forbidden territories. Now commercial companies run their own remote sensing constellations and sell their data to just about anyone.

And ubiquitous internet connectivity and social media platforms make just about anyone a "reporter." Events can be transmitted around the world seconds after they happen.

With all these cameras and de facto reporters around, one would think the fog of war would be lifting, but that's not the case. Digital imagery combined with advanced computing is producing so-called "deep fakes." These are videos that have been manipulated to show something unreal. It's a technology that threatens democracies, and also the military.

Disinformation campaigns are a part of modern warfare. Psychological operations can be used to manipulate a military leader into taking--or not taking--an action. They can be employed to turn a population against an occupying force.

Again, imagery is a powerful means of communication, especially when dealing with illiterate or generally misinformed populations.

"Deep fake" is a term that has not yet truly entered the public's lexicon. And that could be said of members of the media --a frequent consumer of YouTube videos posted by who knows who, but often taken at face value.

A journalist for a prominent radio network, reporting on a video taken from a surveillance camera of the downing of Ukrainian Airways Flight 752 in...

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