This paper provides a primer to deepfakes and forecasts their potential future role in online disinformation campaigns. It concludes that while the threat from deepfakes is real, the risks are somewhat narrower than is frequently portrayed. It also argues that deepfakes may serve as a distraction, reducing focus on the deeper issues that must be resolved to confront the problems of online disinformation and misinformation.
This paper is divided into three parts. Part I explores recent developments in the technical field of artificial intelligence and how they have facilitated the creation of deepfakes. Part II will examine the major trends that are shaping the strategic landscape around deepfakes. Part III extrapolates from those trends to assess the future of deepfakes and offers some recommendations to those seeking to address the threat.