What family offices should know about deep fakes

Political parties and their supporters have always looked for clever ways to discredit opponents, but today’s technology provides unscrupulous operators (domestic and foreign) with tools that would have been the stuff of science fiction just a dozen or so years ago. With various important elections coming up worldwide, you can expect social media to be awash with deep fakery in the coming months.

Deepfakes are generated using machine learning employed in artificial intelligence technology; they can be audio, video or individual images. And for many, deepfakes are a bit of fun; perhaps you’ve laughed at the fake photos of Donald Trump in an orange prison jumpsuit. However, it was no joke for the Hong Kong branch of a multinational company when an employee was tricked into transferring more than $ 25 million following video calls that turned out to be deepfakes. This is why it is important for all businesses, including family businesses, to be wary.

Spotting a deep fake and what to do next

There’s no guaranteed way to spot a good deep fake, but most scams are not top-quality. They’re usually quite cheaply done unless you are a high-value individual, and it’s worth investing significantly in a targeted scam.

When trying to spot a deep fake, some aspects of the human body struggle more than others: eyes, hair, teeth, facial expressions, especially emotion, body posture, and movement. Keep a close eye on these, especially when the head is moved. Does the hair move naturally? Do the eyes, nose, and mouth move in sync, or are they slightly off?

If you are suspicious during a video call, try to get a reaction. Do they respond appropriately with laughter, smiling and eye tracking? Because of these tells, a deepfake will avoid movement. If the speaker is unnaturally still, that is another sign that you are looking at a deep fake.

Another test is to use reverse image search. Take a snapshot of the image (use Win-Shift-S on Windows) and paste it into Google Image Search: . The deep fake may have been trained on public images.

Norton has a very good guide for deep fakes here:

Why should you be worried about AI?

While most of us are unlikely to be targeted by Mission Impossible-level deepfake scam artists, AI and its mimicry of humans are increasingly creeping into our lives, whether we know it or not.

ChatGPT was launched in November 2022 with the capability to rapidly generate text on any topic. Suddenly, articles could be written at the push of a button. Social Media platforms are not discouraging AI generated content. LinkedIn has built AI text generation into its platform, and plenty of third-party post generators are available. The result is a race to the bottom as content creators spew forth a stream of empty content competing for our attention.
How can humans stand out with so much computer-generated text sloshing about? The answer is to lean into being human.

The good news is that there is a well-established model to help us do this: The SUCCESS model. To stand out as human you need to create: Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories.

Let’s play the imitation game

Consider these two reviews of a trip to the Greek island of Andros. Only one of them was written by a human.

Review 1
“There are lots of hidden gems on Andros. Tiny villages clinging to the mountainside where cars cannot go and mules are still used to transport goods and building materials (and suitcases). Glittering waterfalls with clear pools surrounded by flowers and foliage and the famous picture-perfect Bridge of Love featured in the hugely successful Greek movie Little England. And there is always the comedy element with a serious side. A house balanced precariously over the path, with wooden supports clearly rotted and breaking under the strain. Put in metal supports maybe? No, just warn visitors to run as fast as they can as they make their way under it! Thank you to our guides Fotis and RG from Explore Andros for sharing these wonderful treasures with us.”

Review 2
“Nestled in the mountains, Andros captivates with its car-free charm. Mules serve as transport to the village, adding a touch of tradition. Waterfalls and the famous Bridge of Love from “Little England” create a serene backdrop. The village’s unique architecture, like a house balanced over the path, adds intrigue. Guided by Explore Andros’ First and RG, our journey was enriched with local insights, making it a truly memorable escape.”

The first review, although longer, is simple, getting straight to the point. It is also concrete, painting a mental picture with just a few words. AI tends to dilute impact with superfluous ornamentation. The first review is credible, with believable language. As Emotion and story are the true markers of humanity, look at the third paragraph of the first version. Consider the comedy element when visitors are told to run fast before the house collapses over them. This surprising solution to the problem can only make us smile. A good emotional story remains out of reach of artificial intelligence. And did you notice that the AI replaced ‘Fotis’ with ‘First.’ It mistook the name for a spelling mistake!

If you are a small business communicating with your established and prospective customers, you have something very powerful: a shared story that is either in progress or about to begin. You provide something they need, joining together in a mutually beneficial relationship. Human relationships are rich and complex, spinning a myriad of narratives.

Now, take a look at what you are writing. Is it simple, credible and real? How can you weave those stories into your text? How can you surprise your readers and make them feel emotion? Applying the SUCCESS model will show your readers and potential clients that you are human and connect with them in a way that no machine ever could.

Ged Byrne is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. Ged has a 25-year career in technology to date.


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