I’ve published a new essay for the Center for Digital Ethics & Policy on the ethics of digital face-swapping, or the technology used to supplant different faces on different bodies and put them in digital spaces where they don’t belong.
As suggested by the pied ethical reportage of digital face-swapping, deepfakes lack the charm of more classic cons, because they require no build-up; no cunning. We’re predisposed to trust the visual, because our ethicality (and our culture as such) is fundamentally visual. Like fish that can’t comprehend water, we can’t practically comprehend an ethics based in either pure intuition or a priori abstraction. So when the visual deceives us – especially when that deceit is impelled through human agency – it’s easier for us to denude the con through policy or law than to pause and consider the root of the issue; to “see” the plank in our own eye.