Photo of Video editing software

York U philosophy professor discusses video manipulation.


Photo of Professor Regina Rini

Regina Rini

In a MacLean’s article entitled ‘Fake video is a big problem. And it’s only going to get worse’, Philosophy professor Regina Rini explains why innovations in video manipulation techniques- and their availability in off-the-shelf programs that will soon be accessible to the public—are concerning. With technology improving each year, anyone can contribute to the production of fake news, a trend that provokes the question of whether viewers can believe what they see.

“If somebody gets in your Facebook feed and gets 20 minutes

of you talking on YouTube or whatever, that could be enough,” Rini says. “That’s super scary.”

This technology is likely to make a disturbing impact on the public interest. “What I’m imagining is people being gas lit about their own life experiences.”

Over the last century, recordings have served as a way to find out the truth when people cannot agree on or remember what happened. “That’s going to go away,” Rini says. Soon enough, it might be more difficult to use recordings in court cases because the authenticity of recordings will not be guaranteed. Arguably without video footage to settle disputes, everything could be up for debate because we will no longer have confidence in what was once seen as accepted reality. “Once that happens, our testimonial practices might come undone, because people will be freer to lie because they know that there’s not a chance of being checked by audio or video recordings,” said Rini. “It’s almost catastrophic.”

Video manipulation is a technology that raises big questions on subjects from cyber security to human perception, with wide-ranging implications for the justice system, journalism, and politics. Rini predicts that advancements in video manipulation techniques will continue to fuel political corruption. People in positions of power, she explains, will use for their own gain the existence of fake videos to spread mistrust.  On an uneasy note that underscores the significance of her research, Rini says finally, “And I don’t know what happens after that.”