MONTANA - Greetings from the Big Sky Country.
A little bit of winter showed up for a few days this week. Temperatures were in the low 20’s, snow was on the roads, and my driveway wanted me to go outside and shovel it.
But I knew it was still early in the season so I decided shoveling the driveway would wait.
My patience was rewarded. The temperatures went up to the 40’s, the sun came out, and my driveway is now clear.
I have always loved science fiction.
When I was a very young kid I remember going to the Saturday matinee and watching Buck Rodgers in the latest episode of a thrilling adventure in outer space.
I’ve looked at some of those old serials on YouTube and the interior of the space ships looked like they were made out of cardboard. But that was before CGI, maybe even before computers.
And the rocket ships hurtling through space looked like they were plastic models on fishing lines being moved across a black background where “stars” had been painted.
The technology for movie making has improved considerably since those days.
But the stories are what captivated me.
Whether it was Robbie the Robot in the MGM film Forbidden Planet (1956 ), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), the original TV series Star Trek (1966-1969), Jurassic Park (1993), or the many, many movies and TV shows that flourished in that genre.
I even wrote a novel several years ago that was a science fiction story. The book was published by 47North, a company that specialized in science fiction and fantasy books. I had never heard of 47North but they had one VERY BIG thing going for them. They were owned by Amazon.
That meant when the book came out Amazon promoted it and the book made it to the 12th best selling book in the Amazon Kindle Store. It only held that spot for one day, but for that one day I enjoyed my time with the big guys.
Since then, I’ve written several sci-fi scripts (none of which has been produced) and I am always on the lookout for ideas that can be used in sci-fi stories.
Which leads me to the topic of today’s email.
I’ve found such an idea.
I have a sci-fi novel in the works and a sci-fi screenplay and the idea I came across would enhance both stories.
Have you heard of deepfakes?
A deepfake is “a video of a person in which their face or body has been digitally altered so that they appear to be someone else, typically used maliciously or to spread false information.” (From the Oxford Dictionary.)
The technology (using machine learning and artificial intelligence) allows the creator to make it appear a real person is speaking or acting in a certain way even if that person has nothing to do with the project.
The computer generates the audio and video so the finished product looks real.
Deepfakes have been used in the porn industry, fake news, scams, even Hollywood films where they have resurrected dead actors to play a part in a movie.
While this technology may give me some “fun” scenes in my sci-fi stories, they pose a real problem in our society today.
In the next national election do you think deepfakes will play a role in choosing our national leaders?
What will happen if you can no longer believe what you see or hear?
I recently purchased an app that lets me produce “deepfakes” for advertising purposes. They warned me, “Please note that you can be punished by law if you create and distribute fake news, false information, defamatory or foul content.”
Do you think that warning will keep politicians, con-artists, activists, and others from using deepfakes for their own purposes?
You can find many examples of deepfakes online but I’ve included one video link from YouTube: “Best of Deep Fakes Compilation”.
What if “cancel culture” decides to use this tool to discredit people they don’t like?
What if “experts” aren’t really experts but just computer creations?
My writing juices are getting excited about the story possibilities but my real world concerns are going on high alert for the immediate future of us all.
Here are some stories I found interesting last week. You might want to check them out.
“107-Year-Old Pianist Releases New Album After 102 Years at the Piano,” by Louise Bevan. After you read the article, you may want to go to YouTube and watch some videos of her playing.
“Supply Chain Crises? Not for This Company” an interview with Bayard Winthrop, the founder and CEO of American Giant. Winthrop set out to create a clothing company where the product is entirely created within America. While this hour long interview may not be for everyone, if you are interested in business or the supply chain I think you will find this a fascinating listen.
Before I go I’d like to share a blessing with you from the Old Testament.
“May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 (The Living Bible)
Until next time … be the reason someone smiles today!