Making Knowledge Public

Sharing Knowledge Globally 

In our series of "Making Knowledge Public", we welcome research experts to define media crisis, to debunk myths and to share their knowledge about relevant topics. Most importantly, how we can be more mindful in our everyday lives.



Fake news is not a new phenomenon its as old as human kind. A few political figures have popularized the term in order to demean their own opponents, in other words, it has become a weaponized tool.  The traditional concept of fake news today is a reference to false information that is usually being shared on social media with the help of bots which are automated social media accounts that are used to further the spread of information to as many people as possible. 

So let's say you believe that the world is flat or that climate change is fake, that would definitely affect the way you perceive reality and ultimately would influence democracy because you might be more likely to vote in the election for someone who has similar views.

We have to care and we have to take the issue of fake news in a serious way. Most importantly in my view, is the research that examines the stop of fake news and how to counter this impact and how to measure the influence of fake news on different audiences. We need to be more inquisitive, careful, diligent regarding what we read or view online. We cannot take the content that we view for granted.

We have to keep on questioning and challenging the sources that we are viewing. Even if you are reading a credible sources, you still need to have curiosity and this process should not be static or fixed, it has to be an ongoing process because this will make us continuously think about the issues we care about and in the end help us formulate better judgement about these issues.

02 / What is AI and what are deepfakes?

Expert: Dr. Sun Ha Hong, Assistant Professor at SFU School of Communication


We say AI and we often imagine talking robots but that's a bit of a false horizon AI is making a difference today without needing to look or sound very human at all.  Machines are automating highly complex processes, they are learning from their interactions, and they are increasingly making decisions in our stead.

This is what I work on, I don't build the robots, but I look at how these machines are changing what it means to be human and how our societies are put together. One area that is going to be very important going forward is deepfakes. Machine learning is giving people a really quick and easy way to create fake videos with real faces and real bodies.

[Buzzfeed] This is a dangerous time, moving forward we need to be vigilant with what we trust from the internet it's a time when we need to rely on trusted news sources they sound basic but how we move forward in an age of information is going to the be different between whether we survive or whether we become some kind of ****'ed up dystopia. Thank you and stay woke.

[Sun Ha] We are going to see in the future ordinary people's faces being on all kinds of different coverage including incriminating and embarrassing ones pornography, robbery footage so on and so forth. Again, the technology behind that isn't amazingly cutting edge at all but this basic AI is enough to take existing problems in our society and amplify them. At the same time, we are asking AI today to tell us what is true and to sort the truth from the lies. We have a disinformation problem in our social media at the moment and the platforms are moving forward to develop automated system for essentially censoring our communication.

So historically we spent the last two hundred years chasing after the Enlightment. We believed that human beings can know the truth and that we can create a better society through the exercise of our reason. Now that's never been one hundred percent true about us. That has always been aspirational. But that's not going to be hundred percent true for AI either. So the danger here is that we've fought for centuries to exercise some free will and free choice in our lives and now we are apparently rushing to hand over those decisions to machines that cannot think the way we do.

One of the key benefits of AI is the ability to manage extremely large systems, very complex systems with many different moving parts. It is this capability to manage populations and manage complex systems that is going to be the biggest improvements brought by AI, but also the biggest danger brought by AI. Does it really improve our lives to have facial recognition systems all over our cities, creating a vast database, does it really improve our lives to have Alexa listen to us in our homes 24/7 and suggest what things we should buy. So there are things that we can do from a technical standpoint that don't necessarily improve the lives of the ordinary people and sorting one from the other are one of the crucial tasks ahead.