Lying in bed the other morning listening to the radio, I experienced a dark epiphany; I’ve never been much fun in the mornings. There had been problems in Jerusalem, and one side in the conflict had provided video footage supporting its claim that it had been wronged. For my whole life up to this point, I would have been minded to take a look at that video. But now I found myself thinking, why bother? How would I know it showed what it said it showed? How would I know it wasn’t a complete fake? Videos and photos used to mean something concrete, but now you can’t be sure.
I haven’t enough confidence in my human intelligence to formulate a firm view on the dangers or otherwise of artificial intelligence. What I do know is that before long, we won’t know anything for sure. As it stands, however good a fake might be, you can still just about tell it’s a fake. But only just. Sooner rather than later, the joins will disappear. We might even have already passed that point without knowing it. If the judges of the Sony world photography awards couldn’t spot the fake, what chance have the rest of us got?
Television drama is ahead of the curve on this. The Capture and The Undeclared War were both great and did the subject justice – both gave off an unsettling sense of the end of days. If the twist in every crime drama is some kind of deep fakery, it’s all going to get terribly boring. So, in the outside world, to paraphrase GK Chesterton, everything will go to pot as we’ll believe in nothing or, indeed, anything. And, back home, there won’t even be a decent box set to watch. What a time to be alive.