In 1930, a large meteor struck the earth in Grover Mills, New Jersey. Shortly afterwards a local reporter described what he saw emerging from the broken rock; a large numbers of alien creatures!
“But that face, it… it… ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it’s so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.”
Orson Wells was ahead of his time when he performed the historic alien invasion, War of the Worlds, during a radio broadcast back in October 1938. Little did he know his idea to spoof an entire country would come back to haunt us years later.
Our current danger survives because we thrive on news sources from media platforms giving us information but providing no verifiable level of fact checking before reaching our ears and eyes.
Like 1938, we believe first and (maybe) ask questions later.
When Orson Wells started his radio program that night, the same struggle existed. People glued to their radio sets listened to news and information broadcast and absorbed it with unlimited trust.
If they missed the short disclaimer, the invasion was possible. For many, fear outweighed common sense.
The country panicked.
Sane and rational Americans jammed highways seeking to escape alien invaders. People swarmed local police forces demanding safety and refuge from Martian invaders. Rumors spread that aliens destroyed New York City and some people believed it.
The next day, headlines across the county carried the story of mass panic from the innocent “radio play.”
The disadvantages of the 1930s disappeared with worldwide instant access to news and photos, so if we’re told New York or Paris are gone; we go onto the internet and verify the claim and we ease our fear or concerns.
So what does this have to do with 2018?
There is a new threat, called Deep Fake Technology.
Many Americans are unaware a very similar story can present today with technology creating an environment for a focused group or location providing fake vocals, fake videos, and fake photos that appear real.
Targeted fake news and fake information, not from our local media sources but from outside our country.
And with such accuracy, we absorb what we see and hear like dry sponges dropped in a bucket of warm water.
We know Hollywood can swap faces in video, mimic voices almost identically in audio, and create any event they desire.
Even greater technology is in the hands of people who live to see the Great American destroy itself.
New abilities can show videos of our President giving a speech never performed. Or audio created telling us Russia’s leader is proclaiming victory over a neighboring country, video can appear showing the war happening, and news reports coming from reputable sources verifying the events, triggering a response to an incident which never took place.
This is Deep Fake technology in action. It’s not for entertainment.
We’ve already fallen victim to this advanced spoofing with recent Facebook posting from bots trolling both liberals and conservatives to provide information necessary in creating a strong emotional response across our country anytime we discuss politics.
The ability to disrupt all aspects of society now exists and there is no current way to detect some videos and audio sound bites created using this technology.
Even if we detect these fakes and remove them, the struggle today surrounds many Americans continuing to believe anything mimicking their line of thinking or their current political standings, even if told later it isn’t true.
So how do we fight something we can’t identify?
The answer is easy, but the implementation is almost impossible.
Be kind to each other. Learn empathy.
Unfortunately, so many today feel violent, in-your-face arguments are the way to get their point across. Riot, throw things, scream at each other, and trust no one who disagrees with you.
This is now normal in large populated areas.
The heartland is safer for the moment, being less likely to wind up in mob mentality and “heat of the moment” responses.
We need to create cultures of civil behavior in dense areas of population. America is currently a free nation allowing us to speak our minds.
But we still need to act civilized.
Screaming discord never changes the mind of an opponent. Rarely does it create an environment of change at all.
I don’t know how to accomplish such a herculean task, but it starts with individuals. We must stop blaming others for times when we act poorly. Stop convincing ourselves that we are angry because of what someone else said or did. Learn the difference in reacting and responding when things upset us.
No one can make another person behave poorly; our choice to react in a violent or angry manner is up to each of us as an individual.
People can do things we don’t like or go against our current beliefs, but we still have to choose what emotion we want to use to respond. You control your behavior, no one else.
We need to figure out how to respond with less aggression and more empathy as a nation, or our hope of surviving the next Orson Wells type broadcast is bleak.