What The Obama Deepfake Means For Events

Stanley Kubrick's 1968 classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey predicted a technology we’re all familiar with 51 years later: video chat. Whether it’s Skype, FaceTime, Google Duo, or even Snapchat and Instagram, the concept of communicating via video is no longer relegated to the distant future.

While video recording devices have encouraged community and connection for billions of people, many of us know that what we see isn’t always real. However, the technology that was originally created to depict reality has become a threat to it.

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 1.57.18 PM.png

Last year, actor and director Jordan Peele, teamed up with Buzzfeed to create a video of former president Barack Obama -- only it wasn’t Obama. Using old press videos and a program that synced up Obama and Peele’s facial expressions, the results were convincing to say the least. Peele sternly warns from behind the Obama simulation, “This is a dangerous time. Moving forward we need to be more vigilant with what we trust from the internet.”

With technology constantly advancing, video simulations will become increasingly common and realistic. The accessibility of creating deepfakes means anyone will be able to make them, ultimately affecting smaller communities. As Peele noted, it is our trust in reality that’s at stake.

According to a study done by EventBrite, nearly 71 percent of people agreed that attending an event makes them feel more connected to their community, other people, and the world. This increased from the 66 percent reported in 2014. As the reality and threat of deepfakes increases, the value of real life meetings goes up. In-person meetings have always been the gold standard of trust and relationship development. Community comes from real connections you can trust and events like conferences, exhibitions, and tradeshows are ideal for facilitating these meaningful relationships.

Deepfakes serve as a reminder that while our culture may be expanding in it’s technological pursuits, nothing can replace the importance of real life, human-to-human interactions.