The United States Government is openly exploring the use of deepfake technologies to support its operations. The information came to light with the publication of a recent procurement document.
What was the document?
A contributor called The Intercept posted a procurement document from the United States Special Operations Command on the documentcloud.org website. The paper relates to Special Operation Forces Acquisition, Technology and Logistics for the Directorate of Science and Technology (S&T). It is a request for companies to approach the S&T Directorate so that it can fund relevant research and development.
What does the document say?
The document states that the S&T Directorate wants to “evolve its investment strategy by focusing on Special Operation Forces modernization development efforts that include more encompassing, disruptive technology.” It also states that Special Operation Forces operations will occur in many places, including the cyber world.
What has the government asked for?
The S&T Directorate has asked companies to submit white papers on new disruptive technologies across various areas. One of these areas, headed Military Information Support Operations, relates to “digital deception, communication disruption and disinformation campaigns.” The document also requests approaches from companies that can “provide a next generation of ‘deep fake’ or other similar technology.” In addition, the government also wants this technology to “generate messages and influence operations via non-traditional channels.”
What we think
The U.S. Government, as with many other governments worldwide, is facing increasing threats from new deepfake technology. It is clear from the procurement document that the U.S. Government is seeking to explore the use of these technologies to fight back. Some will see this as a justifiable and acceptable part of the Government’s arsenal of technologies to achieve its objectives. However, once you know that governments openly use deepfake technology, it could lead people to question everything they are told. Any organization’s use of deceptive technology, including governments, must be debated and scrutinized to ensure it doesn’t undermine democracy.