1999 & after: new video manipulation technologies raise fears of mass deception
from history commons: Press reports warn that newly-developed digital data manipulation software which automate the creation of fake pictures, videos, or audio recordings could be used for political deception or military advantage. Moviegoers are used to elaborate special effects, but until recently that required expensive and time-consuming, frame-by-frame, post-production work. Now, however, software developed since the mid-1990s permit much faster, even real-time, special effects. Real-time video manipulation allows the deletion of people or objects from a live broadcast or the insertion of pre-recorded images. The technology has commercial applications: it is used in sports broadcasting to generate a virtual “first-down” line or virtual billboards. It is also used, more controversially, in some news programming (see January 13, 2000). A related technology called “digital morphing” is now available to create virtual characters who can convincingly imitate real-life persons, as in the film “Forrest Gump”. Voice morphing, a technology developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, allows the creation of computer speech based on a short recording of someone’s voice. The virtual voice can be surprisingly life-like: the robotic intonations are a thing of the past. For intelligence agencies and PSYOPS (psychological operations) personnel the new techniques are potential weapons of the future. While the public at large is familiar with edited or “photoshopped” images, it is not yet aware of the possibilities for audio or real-time video deception.
january 13, 2000: real-time video manipulation technology could be abused, says cbs news chief
from history commons: Following the publication of a front-page article in the New York Times on the use of fake, digitally-created images in some CBS programs like “The Early Show”, CBS executives call a press conference to defend and explain the practice. While the technology has been used in sports broadcasting for several years now (see 1999 and After), many are troubled by its use in news programs. CBS Television used the technology developed by Princeton Video Image to superimpose a digitally created CBS logo to block out an NBC-sponsored sign in Times Square during its news coverage of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Dan Rather, the CBS anchor, calls that “a mistake”. “At the very least we should have pointed out to viewers that we were doing it.” Both NBC and ABC told the New York Times that they had not used the technology in their news broadcasting. But CBS defends the practice. “Anytime there’s an NBC logo up on our network we’ll block it again”, says Leslie Moonves, the president of CBS Television. Andrew Heyward, the president of the news division, acknowledges the potential for abuse or deception: “He said that he understood the argument against the use of the technology—which is widely employed in sports and some entertainment shows—on news programs. The danger is ‘that it looks too real and therefore it’s wrong or potentially wrong,’ he said. ‘I certainly agree it’s potentially subject to abuse.’ He noted that advances in computer-generated techniques had made things like missiles hitting Baghdad and airplanes crashing look so real that it was incumbent on networks to underscore that these were not real images. ‘We’re not sitting here rubbing our hands, saying how can we use this again,’ Mr. Heyward said. ‘We are not in the deception business. We’re in the reality business; we’re in the accuracy business. To the extent that this technology interferes with that core belief we’re not going to do it. We will absolutely take seriously the use of this tool.’”
1994: US air force launches top-secret ‘holographic projector’ research program
from history commons: According to a 1999 Washington Post website report, the US Air Force starts a research program this year to develop a “holographic projector” as a psychological warfare weapon. Holograms are three-dimensional images created by laser technology. The US military explored the idea of using holograms during the 1991 Gulf War to deceive the Iraqis, but did not pursue it for technical reasons. One idea was to project a hologram of Allah several hundred feet in size over Baghdad, but this would take a mirror in space more than a mile square, plus huge projectors and power sources. Additionally, there are strict Islamic proscriptions on the depiction of Allah. However, the US military did not abandon the concept. “The Gulf War hologram story might be dismissed were it not the case that [the Post] has learned that a super secret program was established in 1994 to pursue the very technology for PSYOPS [psychological operations] application. The ‘Holographic Projector’ is described in a classified Air Force document as a system to ‘project information power from space… for special operations deception missions.’” A 1996 study commissioned by a US Air Force panel called “Air Force 2025” shows how a future “Airborne Holographic Projector” might look like. In this illustration, a virtual aircraft is created to deceive the enemy as to the size and location of attacking forces.
flashback: 70th anniversary of ‘war of the worlds’ psyop; sequel soon?, billboard blasts audio advertisement into the heads of passers-by & project bluebeam: a holographic rapture & the prophet hologram
(…another big thanks to doug & michael @ blacklisted news for helping get this story out…)
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