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Making Sense of Deepfakes : Epistemic Harms and the EU Policy Response

Staab, L.C. (2023) Making Sense of Deepfakes : Epistemic Harms and the EU Policy Response.

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Abstract:Recent advances in generative AI enabled the production of realistic audiovisual media footage, so-called deepfakes. Among other kinds of harm, deepfakes have raised concerns regarding their impact on public discourse and epistemic consequences more broadly. Three different kinds of epistemic harm from deepfakes are distinguished in the philosophical literature: deception, jeopardizing evidence and erosion of trust. I argue these harms are all rooted I deception. However, there is little work on how deepfakes are appraised by recipients. Drawing on Peircean Semiotics and Epistemic Vigilance, I further argue that the evaluation of deepfakes partially depends pre-existing beliefs, interests and the perception of benevolence. This introduces possibilities for non-deception-based harms. I then turn to the European policy discourse around deepfakes. Using Quantitative Content Analysis (QCA), I uncover the understanding of epistemic harm and the measures that target them in relevant policy documents. The analysis shows that deepfakes are subsumed under the broader phenomenon of disinformation. Policy-makers are primarily occupied with harms to epistemic goods which result from deception and manipulation. They seek to address this primarily through providing authoritative information recipients encounter online. However, as this fails to account for how deepfakes may cause non-deception-based harm, this policy response is incomplete.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:70 social sciences in general
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
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