Apr 20, 2023
4:00pm - 5:00pm    |    Furman Hall Room 214


Fortifying the Truth: Human rights, generative AI, and deepfakes

For the past five years WITNESS has led a ‘Prepare, Don’t Panic’ initiative on proactive, global and human rights-driven preparation for synthetic media, AI and challenges to trust in audiovisual media and critical human rights voices. In this talk, learn about the changing landscape for video witnessing, critical recommendations for action to respond to these changes, and potential steps to proactively “fortify the truth”.

Images and video, often shared on social media, are more and more central to communication, and critical as a source of human rights documentation, evidence and storytelling. Yet these media are simultaneously being undermined by the increasing challenges to trust in audiovisual content, societally and from technical developments like deepfakes and the broader emerging technologies of synthetic media and generative AI.
In this context, how do we proactively act to ‘fortify the truth’ of critical voices defending human rights via tactics, strategies and work on infrastructure and policy – across the pipeline of filming, sharing, analyzing, watching, advocating with, and preserving videos? Are there ways in which generative AI and synthetic media tools and technological shifts might also support the realization of human rights and enable human rights advocacy?

Sam Gregory is an award-winning human rights advocate, technologist, and innovative leader with over 25 years’ experience at the intersections of video, technology, civic participation, and media practices. As the Executive Director of WITNESS, Sam leads the organization’s five-year strategic plan to “Fortify the Truth” and champions our global team of activists and partners who support millions of people using video and technology globally to defend and protect human rights.

Sam is an internationally recognized expert on smartphone witnessing, including in social media, citizen journalism and live-streaming contexts. He is a trusted authority on new forms of mis/disinformation such as deepfakes as well as innovations in preserving trust, authenticity, and evidence in an era of increasing audiovisual communication. In 2018, he initiated “Prepare, Don’t Panic” the first global effort to ensure policies, technologies, and infrastructure built to respond to deepfakes and generative AI reflect and are inclusive of globally diverse perspectives.

Sam has served on the Technology Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court, and co-chaired the Partnership on AI’s Expert Group on AI and the Media. He has written for WIRED and The Hill and in a range of academic journals, and been interviewed by the BBC, The New York Times, MIT Tech Review, and The Economist, among other media. A frequent keynote speaker, he has spoken at the White House and Davos. From 2010-18 he taught the first class at Harvard on human rights advocacy via participatory media.


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