STING, DEEPFAKE, AND MYTH
June 9, 2021
I hope your Wednesday is starting out better than mine. For some reason, my computer would not open. After several shut-downs and restarts, I got it going. But, I had lost todays planned post. So here's its replacement.
Migration is happening around the world. Some of it is beneficial, and some is creating havoc. As readers of my FBI Special Agent Hartmann novels know, Hartmann loves a particular red wine. His taste is based on my personal experience. The wine was mentioned in an Associated Press article about asylum seekers. Thank God for this migration story, as it ensures my favorite wine will be around a while longer.
Here's an excerpt from the article –
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CASALE DEL BOSCO, Italy – Summer is arriving in Italy's wine country in Tuscany, and the leaves on the vines shimmer in gold and green.
Yahya Adams moves his gloves through the foliage, removing excess buds and shoots to make the vines stronger.
He's among 24 asylum seekers from Africa and Asia who are working in the vineyards of Tenute Silvio Nardi on this year's crop of "Brunello de Montalcino," one of Italy's most famous wines.
They come from Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Pakistan, and other countries, with no prior experience in winemaking. But they have found temporary work here through a local nonprofit group that helps asylum seekers find legal employment in vineyards or olive groves while their claims are being processed.
Adams, a 21-year-old from Ghana, is enjoying learning the craft.
"I like to study how the plant grows, and I want to improve in this job," he said."
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I'll drink to that.
The 7th definition of "sting" in my Webster's Dictionary is – "an instance or method of cheating or swindling as in a confidence game; esp., such an instance or method engaged in by law-enforcement agents to entrap criminals."
In conjunction with law enforcement agencies in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, the FBI just pulled off one of the biggest stings of all time. For three years, they have been literally sitting in the back pockets of some of the world's top criminals. Custom cellphones, bought on the black market and installed with the FBI-controlled platform called Anom, circulated and grew in popularity among high-profile criminals who believed in their integrity.
First, the FBI dismantled encrypted platforms used by criminals to communicate. Then they marketed an encrypted app of their own to target organized crime, drug trafficking, and money laundering activities around the world. The users believed the Anom devices were secured by encryption. They were – but every message was also fed directly to the FBI.
The operation was closed down yesterday when it became apparent to the FBI that their sting had been discovered. Raids by law enforcement agents worldwide just before the shutdown resulted in the impounding of more than eight tons of cocaine, 22 tons of marijuana and hashish, two tons of methamphetamine and amphetamine, 250 firearms, 55 luxury vehicles, and more than $48 million in cash and cryptocurrencies—hundreds of arrests were made.
"Deepfake" is not in my 2000 Webster's Dictionary and is an unknown word to my computer spellcheck. However, it is defined on the Internet as "Deepfakes are synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else's likeness. While the act of faking content is not new, deepfakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with a high potential to deceive.
Recently a deepfake video was viewed by over 11 million people on TikTok of Tom Cruise, hitting a golf ball and performing a magic trick. The video was developed by Miles Fisher in conjunction with a Belgian visual effects specialist using artificial intelligence techniques and post-production work on movements and facial details to get them aligned. As a result, a U.K. TIMES editorial warned in an era when mistrust is already at an all-time high, "we must have to resign ourselves to a new understanding of digital reality," in which a video alone is no longer sufficient proof of something actually happening.
Crime novel writers like me and screen/TV writers have created myths about law enforcement that are not true. For example, the Urban Institute indicates –
Myth: forensic examiners (CSIs) investigate crimes, carry weapons, and process complex crimes in minutes. Fact: the typical piece of DNA collected from a crime scene takes months to process (if it is at all). The civilian processing it is different from the evidence collector.
Myth: most crimes are solved by fingerprints and DNA. Fact: less than one percent of all serious crimes are solved by DNA, and fingerprints do only slightly better.
Myth: fingerprints can definitively match a person to a crime scene. Fact: fingerprint matches are entirely subjective. We have no idea whether the cliché that all fingerprints are unique is actually true.
You just can't believe anything these days.
To forget about all this, I may try one of my bottles of Ridolfi Brunello di Montalcino tonight.
Richard V. Rupp, Author
Website – www.richardvrupp.com
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright©2021 by Richard V. Rupp