The era of ‘deepfakes’ offers AI opportunities for companies like TechSimulater
Concerns are rising over uses of a new wave of sophisticated technology which is able to forge convincingly faked videos and audio, largely considered to be the next generation of notorious fake news and misinformation.
This malicious content, known as ‘deepfakes’, presents real dangers. Albeit political interference through deepfake content has not yet happened, it is being deployed for providing false criminal evidence and for uses in fraudulent activity and blackmail across the world.
Indeed, across the Atlantic in the US state of California, concerns are so severe that a law was passed in October this year which prohibited “materially deceptive audio or visual media” from being released within 60 days of an election.
However, where these new generation risks arise, it presents opportunities for those in the innovative technology sector to create solutions to fight back.
Some researchers are already looking into these solutions, creating equally effective technology to that which is being used to hoodwink human audiences. For TechSimulater, an eight-year-old firm in Milton Keynes already specialised in app, web and software development, it constitutes a perfect route to branch out into developing artificial intelligence. Incidentally, it is also something that its ambitious CEO, Khurram Asif, is looking to do.
Speaking to The Parliamentary Review about TechSimulater’s plans for the future, Asif said: “In the next five years, we want to be seriously researching and developing three new frontiers: robotics, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
“We do want to continue delivering excellent software and service for clients, as we do now, but diversification and expansion into cutting-edge and exciting industry areas are processes that we are all passionate about at TechSimulater.”
It certainly has the innovative background to branch into these fields. In 2016, the firm shifted focus from selling custom computers in favour of developing apps, with creating custom made software and website development coming just behind in terms of priority. Its flagship product, the Heelo app, was the first social network platform that was focused almost entirely around video calling. It was developed by drawing inspiration from the existing WhatsApp model, considering issues and problems that consumers had expressed concerns about, then improved on and marketed toward a corporate sector audience.
Asif bemoans the lack of new and original British technologies in the market, but with London a global hub for finance and business and with increasing numbers of young British people branching into the technology industry, the potential for this to change in future is great.
Developing technical methods for deepfake detection is one way in which tech firms can look to establish themselves in the AI market. However, the lingering question remains as to who ultimately should be responsible for identifying deepfake content and how to be able to do it en masse. Even the bill passed in California does not specify onto whom such a responsibility should fall upon.
Awareness among individual internet users is important, but the scale of the growing deepfake issue means that tech companies beginning to develop solutions will have to take some role in helping differentiate falsehoods from the truth.
Integrating deepfake detection systems within popular platforms, particularly social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, may be one way of cracking down on the rise of deepfake content. TechSimulater itself is certainly no stranger to working with household names in the past, having acquired contracts with the likes of Rovio and Qatar Airways in recent years.
Asif talked very openly about the challenges of acquiring funding and the importance of strong networks and strong products to pitch to the market. However, with a want to drift into AI and the demand for anti deepfake and fake news technologies likely to rise, it could certainly present a tangible way forward for TechSimulater and similar firms across the UK.