US Special Ops want to weaponize deep fakes – The Intercept
The Pentagon’s secret operations branch is seeking capabilities to deploy “next generation” deep fakes in information warfare and hack the Internet of Things (IoT) to track their impact, a procurement document has revealed. The Intercept reported on the initiative on Monday.
The document in question outlines a technology wish list for US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), which is responsible for Washington’s clandestine military actions around the world. It was first published in 2020 and last updated in October 2022, adding tools that can falsify images of public figures to its desired inventory, according to the outlet.
The command’s Military Information Support Operations (MISO) is seeking a “next generation of ‘deep fake’ or other similar technology to generate messages and influence operations via non-traditional channels in relevant peer/near peer environments,” it states.
Deep-fake technology uses publicly available imagery to create a digital version of a person, which can then be used to fabricate footage. It is currently used mostly for entertainment, including the production of fake pornography featuring celebrities.
US officials have long voiced concerns that foreign adversaries, particularly rivals like China and Russia, could deploy deep fakes in disinformation campaigns. US agencies claim they are developing tools to detect such videos, purportedly so that users can defend themselves against such attacks.
The Pentagon procurement document appears to prove that, while Washington decries the threat to democracy and public trust posed by deep fakes, the Department of Defense is seeking to weaponize them.
The same paper mentions a “next generation capability to ‘takeover’ Internet of Things (IoT) devices” – appliances with online connectivity and various sensors to track their environment – to assess the effect of propaganda campaigns. Hacking such devices would allow the military to “collect data and information from local populaces to enable breakdown of what messaging might be popular” so that MISO could “craft and promote messages” better.
The Intercept previously reported that the Pentagon had leveraged the US government’s influence over US tech companies to secure support for propaganda operations in the Middle East.