The House Intelligence Committee will next week examine the risks posed by deepfakes, artificial intelligence technology that can create realistic-looking fake videos, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Tuesday.
Schiff, a California Democrat, said he feared that Russia could engage in a “severe escalation” of its disinformation campaign targeting the United States ahead of the 2020 US presidential election.
“And the most severe escalation might be the introduction of a deep fake — a video of one of the candidates saying something they never said,” Schiff said.
Schiff made the comments during an interview with CNN’s Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday.
He said that while the doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that went viral on social media two weeks ago was not a deepfake, it was an example of how manipulated media could be used.
“That was what’s called a cheap fake; very easy to make, very simple to make, real content just doctored,” Schiff sad. “But if you look back at how impactful the Mitt Romney videotape about the 47% was, you could imagine how a videotape that is more incendiary could be election-altering.”
Schiff continued, “And this may be the future we are heading into, and when you combine that with the fact that we already have a President of the United States who says the things that are real — like the Access Hollywood tape — are fake, and things that are fake — like the Pelosi tape — he pushes out as real; when he has a presidential lawyer saying truth isn’t truth, and a spokesperson, Kellyanne Conway, saying they are entitled to their own alternate facts.”
Earlier this year, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned Congress that America’s adversaries may use deepfake technology in future disinformation campaigns.
Deepfakes remain complicated to produce, and to date no deepfakes of US politicians have been deployed in a viral disinformation campaign.