FAKE NEWS! (via Pixabay).
Media,  Technology

Gartner: Blockchain can beat deepfake

The leading research firm highlighted blockchain as a technology with the potential to change the world, citing video manipulation defense and mobile cryptocurrency payments

Within two years, at least 10 major news organizations will be using blockchain technology to combat deepfake video manipulation. Two years after that nearly one third of the world’s news and video content will be authenticated using blockchain.

That was one of the top predictions for IT organizations and users made by research firm Gartner at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo in Orlando on October 22, according to a release.

The term deepfake combines “deep learning” and “fake” to describe the use of artificial intelligence to make video content so real humans cannot distinguish it from reality. 

Deep fake video technology has been around for a while—think Forrest Gump dropping trou at the White House in front of LBJ—but it’s been getting too good for democracy.

After Facebook refused to remove a deepfake video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing drunk in June, another one popped up on Facebook-owned Instagram in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg was made to say, “Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures.”

Add in bot-controlled social media accounts and fake news has been “attracting more viewers than authentic news and manipulating human intake of information,” Gartner noted.

To combat this, IT organizations will have to “work with content production teams to establish and track the origin of enterprise-generated content using blockchain technology,” said Daryl Plummer, distinguished vice president and Gartner Fellow. 

It’s not just politics, either. Imagine the marketing damage of a deepfake video of rats in a chain store. In 2014, a real rat video in a New York Dunkin’ Donuts franchise made national news and a David Letterman Top Ten List. The store was shut down and its owner sued by the company. A Google search returns more than a half million hits.

But deepfake is not the only way Gartner believes blockchain will have a big impact soon. While Facebook’s Libra stablecoin project is in big trouble, the research firm said that by the end of 2020, “major online marketplaces and social media platforms will start supporting cryptocurrency payments.”

By 2025, Gartner added, half of the world’s poor without access to a traditional bank—the UN puts their numbers at 1.7 billion—”will instead use these new mobile-enabled cryptocurrency account services offered by global digital platforms.”

Aside from access, blockchain advocates note that the technology will make financial transactions much faster and cheaper

This will be a particular economic boon in sub-Saharan Africa and the Asia/Pacific region, where buying and selling will get much easier, Gartner added.

Neither of these blockchain projects will be fast or cheap, however. 

“In most traditional organizations, the gap between digital ambition and reality is large,” Plummer said.

Through 2021, digital transformation initiatives of all types will take companies twice as long and cost twice as much as anticipated, Gartner added. 

More broadly, he said, ‘[t]echnology is changing the notion of what it means to be human. As workers and citizens see technology as an enhancement of their abilities, the human condition changes as well. CIOs in end-user organizations must understand the effects of the change and reset expectations for what technology means.”

A day earlier, Gartner Research Vice President Brian Burke told Symposium/Xpo attendees that blockchain was one of the firm’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020.

It has the “potential to reshape industries,” he said. 

Blockchain will do this, “by enabling trust, providing transparency and enabling value exchange across business ecosystems, potentially lowering costs, reducing transaction settlement times and improving cash flow,” Burke said.

At the same time, he noted that “[b]lockchain remains immature for enterprise deployments due to a range of technical issues including poor scalability and interoperability.”

Earlier this year, Gartner predicted that that 90% of current enterprise blockchain platforms will have to be replaced by 2021.

The firm also said it believes that by 2025, the business value added by blockchain will grow to $176 billion. It will reach $3.1 trillion by 2030, it added. 

Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus senior editor, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about meeting and incentive travel, as well as the consumer and employee loyalty business. He also covered the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, small businesses, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson owns no cryptocurrencies.