Former president Barack Obama told a crowd in Canada that he has seen “fake” videos that feature a figure bearing his likeness, and he is worried that people are going to believe they are real.
Obama told the Ottawa audience Friday evening that he has personally seen these fake videos and the figure in the videos bears an uncanny likeness to himself.
“People can duplicate me speaking and saying anything. And it sounds like me and it looks like I’m saying it — and it’s a complete fabrication,” Obama said.
Obama explained that he is worried people will believe these videos that show him doing and saying bad things are real because the human brain hasn’t adapted quickly enough to process information available on social media platforms, and artificial intelligence is going to make things worse.
Disturbingly, Obama also said Big Tech has the responsibility of creating “basic agreements” about “basic facts” that will be understood by everybody in society, though he did not outline how authorities could police and enforce these “facts.”
“We have the potential, with this splintered media landscape, of having basic agreements not about policy, but just about basic facts,” Mr. Obama said. “The marketplace of ideas has difficulty working if we don’t have some common baseline of what’s true or what’s not.”
HillTimes reports: The former president has been hitting the speaking circuit in various Canadian cities, including Winnipeg and Calgary. Mr. Obama’s talk in Ottawa was a wide-ranging discussion on the role of big tech, Canada-U.S. relations, marriage, parenthood, and the NBA finals. Canada 2020, the self-described progressive think-tank, hosted the event.
Though he shied from mentioning his successor, Mr. Obama drew some laughs from the audience when asked about whether he remains optimistic about the future since leaving the White House. “I left the office cautiously optimistic,” he said. “What I came away with that gave me extraordinary optimism is the people I would meet along the way, in every country.”
The rise of the archetypal strongman who promises he can fix what ails us is not limited to one specific country, he said. “That kind of politics has gotten traction, that story has gotten a lot of traction throughout the world, it’s not unique to any country.”
Shopify CEO Tobias Lutke moderated the hour-long discussion with the former president, asking him to reflect on his departure from the White House and the 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that put him, a candidate for the Senate at the time, on the political map.
His visit to Ottawa followed a day after U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) to push for the swift passage of the new NAFTA deal.
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