Activision Blizzard shareholders approve plan for public report on sexual harassment

Activision Blizzard shareholders on Tuesday approved a plan for the company to release an annual, public report detailing its handling of sexual harassment and gender discrimination disputes, and how it’s working to prevent these incidences. The proposal was initially made in February by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Under the proposal, Activision Blizzard will have to publicly disclose the following information each year:

  • The number and total dollar amount of disputes settled by the studio relating to sexual harassment and abuse, and discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, service member status, gender identify, or sexual orientation — covering the last three years

  • What steps Activision Blizzard is taking to reduce the average length of time it takes to resolve these incidents internally and legally

  • The number of pending complaints facing the studio relating to sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination, internally and in litigation

  • Data on pay and hours worked, as required by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

The DFEH sued Activision Blizzard in July 2020, alleging executives there fostered a culture of rampant sexual harassment and systemic gender discrimination. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also sued the studio over these allegations in 2020, and Activision Blizzard settled with the federal agency in March, agreeing to set up an $18 million fund for claimants. Activists, employees and the DFEH have argued that this settlement is too low, and former employee Jessica Gonzalez appealed the ruling in May. The DFEH estimates there are 2,500 injured employees deserving more than $930 million in compensation.

“For years, there have been alarming news reports that detail allegedly rampant sexual abuse, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation directed toward female employees,” a statement in support of the proposal to shareholders reads. As an investor-focused document, it outlines the ways in which systemic discrimination and sexual abuse can damage the studio’s revenue streams and its ability to retain employees, saying, “A report such as the one requested would assist shareholders in assessing whether the company is improving its workforce management, whether its actions align with the company’s public statements and whether it remains a sustainable investment.”

While Activision Blizzard is facing multiple lawsuits and investigations in regards to sexism, harassment and discrimination, some employees at the studio are attempting to unionize with the help of the Communications Workers of America. This would be the first union at a major video game studio and could signal a shift in the industry’s longstanding crunch-centric cycle. At Tuesday’s annual meeting, Activision Blizzard shareholders denied a proposal that would’ve added an employee representative to the board of directors, with just 5 percent voting in favor, according to The Washington Post.

At the same time, Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard in a deal worth nearly $69 billion. Microsoft has pledged to respect the rights of workers to unionize. And all the while, Activision Blizzard is still making games.

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SpaceX fears Starlink service could be trashed by 5G plan

SpaceX has said its U.S.-based Starlink customers will see their broadband service badly disrupted if Dish Network is allowed to use the 12GHz band for its 5G cellular network.

The decision is in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as Dish Network and others such as New York-based RS Access lobby the agency to let them use the 12GHz band. But SpaceX isn’t happy.

“If Dish’s lobbying efforts succeed, our study shows that Starlink customers will experience harmful interference more than 77% of the time and total outage of service 74% of the time, rendering Starlink unusable for most Americans,” the company said in a message posted on its website on Tuesday, June 21.

The long-running dispute involves a number of companies that are trying to gain access to the 12GHz band that SpaceX already uses for its internet-from-space Starlink service.

Dish has previously published data suggesting that ground-based 5G networks could comfortably share the frequency with low-Earth orbit satellite networks operated by the likes of SpaceX for its Starlink service.

But this week, SpaceX said that technical studies “dating back as far as 2016” suggest that opening up the band to ground-based 5G networks could adversely impact its Starlink service, and it even accused Dish of attempting to “mislead the FCC with faulty analysis in hopes of obscuring the truth.”

The company led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk also shared a 12-page technical analysis explaining how mobile services envisioned by Dish would “cause massive disruptions to users of next-generation satellite services,” such as Starlink.

It explained that a high-gain antenna, like the SpaceX user terminal, is “designed with sufficient sensitivity to receive very weak signals coming from a desired transmitter,” adding that “such antennas do not, however, ‘reject’ interference coming from other directions.” The result is that interference would “completely wipe out the desired signal.”

In widely reported comments, a Dish spokesperson said its “expert engineers are evaluating SpaceX’s claims.”

Dish announced last week that it has launched commercial 5G services in more than 100 U.S. cities — covering around 20% of the nation’s population — by using frequencies in other spectrum bands. But whether it can access the 12GHz band as part of its 5G rollout remains to be seen.

SpaceX has launched more than 2,500 Starlink satellites into orbit for its broadband service, which currently serves more than 400,000 customers in 34 countries.

Editors’ Choice

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How will AI be used ethically in the future? AI Responsibility Lab has a plan

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As the use of AI across all industries and nearly every aspect of society grows, there is an increasingly obvious need to have controls in place for responsible AI .

Responsible AI is about making sure that AI is used in a way that isn’t unethical, that helps respect personal privacy and that also generally avoids bias. There is a seemingly endless stream of companies, technologies and researchers tackling issues associated with responsible AI. Now the aptly named AI Responsibility Labs (AIRL) is joining the fray, announcing  $2 million in pre-seed funding, alongside a preview launch of the company’s Mission Control software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. 

Leading AIRL is the company’s CEO Ramsay Brown, who was trained as a computational neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, where he spent a lot of time working on mapping the human brain. His first startup was originally known as Dopamine Labs, rebranded as Boundless Mind, with a focus on behavioral engineering and how to use machine learning to make predictions about how people are going to behave. Boundless Mind was acquired by Thrive Global in 2019.

At AIRL, Brown and his team are taking on the issues of AI safety, making sure that AI is used responsibly in a way that doesn’t harm society or the organizations that are using the technology.

“We founded the company and built the software platform for Mission Control to start with helping data science teams do their job better and more accurately and faster,” Brown said. “When we look around the responsible AI community, there are some people working on governance and compliance, but they are not talking to data science teams and finding out what actually hurts.”

What data science teams need to create responsible AI

Brown stated emphatically that no organization likely sets out to build an AI that is purposefully biased and that uses data in an unethical fashion.

Rather, what typically occurs in a complex development with many moving pieces and different people is data being unintentionally misused or machine learning models trained on incomplete data. When Brown and his team asked data scientists what was missing and what hurt development efforts, respondents told him they were looking for project management software more so than a compliance framework. 

“That was our big ‘a-ha’ moment,” he said. “The thing that teams actually missed was not that they didn’t don’t understand regulations, it’s that they didn’t know what their teams were doing.”

Brown noted that two decades ago software engineering was revolutionized with the development of dashboard tools like Atlassian’s Jira, which helped developers to build software faster. Now, his hope is that AIRL’s Mission Control will be the dashboard in data science to help data teams build technologies with responsible AI practices.

Working with existing AI and MLops frameworks

There are multiple tools that organizations can use today to help manage AI and machine learning workflows, sometimes grouped together under the industry category of MLops.

Popular technologies include AWS Sagemaker, Google VertexAI, Domino Data Lab and BigPanda. 

Brown said that one of the things his company has learned while building out its Mission Control service is that data science teams have many different tools they prefer to use. He said that AIRL isn’t looking to compete with MLops and existing AI tools, but rather to provide an overlay on top for responsible AI usage. What AIRL has done is developed an open API endpoint so that a team using Mission Control can pipe in any data from any platform and have it end up as part of monitoring processes.

AIRL’s Mission Control provides a framework for teams to take what they’ve been doing in ad hoc approaches and create standardized processes for machine learning and AI operations.

Brown said that Mission Control enables users to take data science notebooks and turn them into repeatable processes and workflows that work within configured parameters for responsible AI usage. In such a model, the data is connected to a monitoring system that can alert an organization if there is a violation of policies. For example, he noted that if a data scientist uses a data set that isn’t allowed by policy to be used for a certain machine learning operation, Mission Control can catch that automatically, raise a flag to managers and pause the workflow.

“This centralization of information creates better coordination and visibility,” Brown said. “It also lowers the probability that systems with really gnarly and undesirable outcomes end up in production.”

Looking out to 2027 and the future of responsible AI

Looking out to 2027, AIRL has a roadmap plan to help with more advanced concerns around AI usage and the potential for Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). The company’s 2027 focus is on enabling an effort it calls the Synthetic Labor Incentive Protocol (SLIP). The basic idea is to have some form of smart contract for using AGI-powered labor in the economy.

“We’re looking at the advent of artificial general intelligence, as a logistical business and society level concern that needs to be spoken about not in “sci-fi terms,” but in practical incentive management terms,” Brown said.

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Freshworks: 93% of IT managers have deployed AI, or plan to soon

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Nearly all IT managers (93%) are currently exploring or deploying some level of AI to streamline help desk systems, according to a new report from FreshworksHalf of IT managers said they have already implemented AI tools.

Nearly 70% of IT managers said AI is either critical or very important for upgrading and modernizing their service desk capabilities. Even so, respondents said there are certain prerequisites for AI-enabled solutions. While the most desired characteristic of AI tools is their ease of integration with existing IT infrastructure, a majority of respondents indicated that any AI solutions for IT service management (ITSM)/IT operations management (ITOM) should be intuitive, scalable, collaborative, and fast and easy to deploy.

The survey explored a key metric associated with today’s demanding IT environment: the number of IT service inquiries received by the IT support desk each day. That number ranged from an average of 44 inquiries per day for small companies to 725 per day for large organizations.

ITSM chatbots were the clear leader in planned or actual AI deployments. The survey found that 25% of respondents expected AI-powered technologies to reduce IT staff workloads, and that 39% have already experienced this benefit.

Survey respondents also explained what they wanted to gain from implementing AI: Speed of implementation (40%), Integration with legacy systems (40%), Overall cost of implementation (38%), and training the AI bots solution to return the most accurate response (39%).

Conducted across 14 countries, surveying more than 850 senior IT executives the survey reveals that AI has hit the mainstream.

Read the full Right sizing AI report from Freshworks.


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Tech News

A 10TB Degoo cloud storage plan for under $90? It’s the TNW Deals summer gift to you

TLDR: The Degoo Premium Backup Plan offers a 10TB cloud storage account to cover all your file saving needs, all at over 90 percent off the regular price.

All your history can hold you back. And that’s no metaphor. 

Just start sorting through your hard drive and you’ll probably find dozens upon dozens of old files — videos, music, documents and more — stashed in virtually every corner of your computer or other device. There are a handful of 10 MB photos here, maybe a stray 500 MB video over there…before you know it, those trips down memory lane are adding up into some very real hard drive cloggage. And that doesn’t even get into the effects of all those old files gumming up and slowing down your system.

The past doesn’t have to be a yoke around your neck, especially when you can just safely ship stuff off to the cloud, where it can sit quietly and out of the way until you want to stroll down memory lane.

With The Degoo Premium Backup Plan including a lifetime 10TB cloud storage account ($89.40 with code SUMMER40, from TNW Deals), you can keep anything and everything safe and sound in the cloud, while your device memory stays keep and unencumbered for all your present day computing.

Each Degoo plan offers 10TB of storage space in the cloud, ready to archive all the extra files you don’t need now, but might need again someday. Degoo’s high speed network syncs to all of your devices, performs backups whenever you like and keeps it all secure and out of your way.

All of your files are fully secure via ultra protected 256-bit AES encryption, which means none of your precious information will be susceptible to hackers or other virtual snoops.

If you’re someone who forgets to run backups, Degoo also has you covered. Through their mobile app, users can set up automatic updates, which detect any files you’ve changed, then ships new updated versions of that file right to your storage.  

A 10TB cloud storage account with lifetime access comes with a $3,600 price tag, but with the current deal, you can get it for just $89.40 when you enter the code SUMMER40 during checkout.

Prices are subject to change.

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Tech News

Spotify tipped in possible plan to sell live and virtual concert tickets

Spotify, the platform that has dominated music and, more recently, podcast streaming may be eyeing its next big thing: selling tickets to music events, including live and virtual concerts. That’s according to a new report that cites people “familiar with the matter.” This business expansion, assuming Spotify proceeds with it, would benefit from the company’s existing mass of user data.

The details come from The Information, which claims that Spotify is only considering an expansion into the musical events business at this time. It’s well-known that many musical artists depend on live events to make a considerable portion of their income, which often comes partially from ticket sales and more heavily from selling merchandise.

The report notes that by offering ticket sales to these kinds of events, Spotify may be able to improve its relationship with artists who have, generally speaking, been critical of the funds they get in royalties from these kinds of services.

For Spotify’s part, such an expansion could help its once again diversify its revenue away from simply musical albums, a process it already started by embracing podcasts — including original audio shows — in a big way. Whether this move, should it happen, would be successful depends entirely on whether artists and consumers would embrace the platform as a place to buy tickets.

The report claims that Spotify doesn’t plan to compete with the dominating entities in the events business, but rather that its efforts would be more focused on improving its relationship with artists. The company already has limited experience in selling tickets for virtual concerts, but there’s no guarantee it’ll ultimately expand that effort in a big way.

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35% of Windows Users Plan to Upgrade to Windows 11

Microsoft just released the first official Windows 11 build and despite some controversy around the minimum hardware requirements, there’s a group of people who just can’t wait to upgrade.

That is all according to a new study from the firm YouGov, which found that 35% of users plan to upgrade to Windows 11 as soon as they can.

The survey of 1,200 people was conducted right after Microsoft’s June 24 event, and the results show that 20% of current Windows users plan to upgrade from an older version of Windows within six months. Another 7% plan to update within 12 months, and 5% within a year or longer. Of the total surveyed, 14% do not plan to upgrade at all.

There are a lot of factors that could be pushing the “want to upgrade” numbers so high. Windows 11 comes with some much-needed visual improvements, as well as new multitasking tools.

Microsoft even worked to improve the Microsoft Store in Windows 10, so that it comes with support for Android apps like TikTok. These are some hotly anticipated features.

YouGov’s survey also found that 35% of U.S. adults know about Windows 11, while 63% do not. That could be because Microsoft invested a lot of time marketing Windows 11, especially on social media. It spent a couple of days teasing the event with YouTube videos and tweets, only to have it spoiled by a leak that revealed an early version of Windows 11.

As for people who aren’t on Windows, YouGov finds that 8% of MacOS users are likely to switch operating systems within the next year. It’s unclear what drives those numbers, but the centered Taskbar and Start Menu in Windows 11 are reminiscent of what Apple has done in MacOS. And bringing Android mobile phone apps to Windows is similar to what Apple has accomplished with bringing iPhone apps to its M1 Macs.

Windows 11 isn’t set for an official release until the second half of this year, and will continue its rollout out into 2022. New PCs with Windows 11 should start shipping this holiday season.

If you’re eager to update, you can do so via the Windows Insider program in just a few clicks. Just be aware that there will be a lot of bugs and other issues, as Microsoft is still looking for feedback on Windows 11 before pushing it to a final state.

Editors’ Choice

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Realtime Robotics raises $31.4M to help industrial robots plan their moves

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Realtime Robotics, a company developing technology that enables robots to alter their motions in dynamic, fast-moving environments, has raised $31.4 million in a series A round of funding.

Founded out of Boston in 2016, Realtime Robotics said that it has developed a processor capable of creating “collision-free motion plans” in milliseconds, helping industrial robots and other autonomous vehicles plan their every move and alter course if needed.


While Realtime Robotics caters to structured environments where object locations and positions are known, it’s unstructured environments and unpredictable workspaces where things get particularly interesting.

In situations where other robots, moving machinery, static objects, and humans coexist, this can prove challenging for robots tasked with a particular job — if a robotic arm can move in any number of directions while simultaneously rolling along a factory floor, how will it react to a forklift truck that shoots out of nowhere? Or how can it safely collaborate with other robots in the same space without banging into each other?

That is what Realtime Robotics is setting out to solve, enabling companies to automatically generate a “network of potential motion plans” that adapt to changing environments instantly, removing the engineering complexity involved in humans having to manually configure all possible variations themselves.

Above: Realtime Robotics: Dynamic environments and adaptive motion planning

There is more than enough evidence of the profound impact that AI and automation is already having on assembly lines, ecommerce warehouses, and other verticals. The industrial automation market was pegged as a $164 billion industry in 2020, a figure that’s forecast to nearly double within six years. What Realtime Robotics and its ilk are striving to achieve is to bring human-level perception and reactions to machines that operate in dynamic or hazardous environments — anticipating their next move before they need to make it.

Prior to now, Realtime Robotics had raised around $16 million, and with another $31.4 million in the bank, the company said that it plans to expand its reach into warehouse logistics automation. It added that it also plans to continue on its existing trajectory, which has so far been focused on the automotive industry, enabling it to attract companies such as Ford to its roster of early partners, while Hyundai, Toyota, and Mitsubishi have all previously invested in Realtime Robotics too.

Investors in Realtime Robotics’ series A round included newcomers HAHN Automation, SAIC Capital Management, Soundproof Ventures, Heroic Ventures, alongside existing backers Toyota AI Ventures, Sparx Asset Management, Omron Ventures,  Scrum Ventures, and Duke Angels.


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The Plan to Finally Put An End to Digital Fingerprinting

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We have more tools to secure our identity online than ever before. You can ban cookies — the little pieces of information websites deposit in our browsers to identify us — block invasive trackers from tailing our machines, switch to incognito mode, opt out of cross-app tracking with Apple’s latest iOS update, or even go as far as to surf the web only through highly encrypted virtual private networks.

But there’s a tracking method that can still slip past these defenses and it’s growing in popularity: Fingerprinting.

The anatomy of a fingerprint

What makes fingerprinting so elusive and difficult to defend against is the fact that the data it exploits is essential to the web’s foundational functions.

Apps and websites look to collect all sorts of information from us (GPS coordinates, our personal details, etc.) that we pay attention to and usually have the option to keep to ourselves. But a cursory review of just about any tech company’s privacy policy will tell you that they also gather a range of other miscellaneous data that you don’t pay attention to and that you can’t easily stop them from tracking — such as what software your device runs on and to which network operator you subscribe.

“Fingerprinting is a threat to user privacy because it enables a nontransparent way for companies to track and identify users and devices.”

There’s a legitimate reason behind why companies need this data and why they can get it without even asking for your explicit permission. You see, all of us web users access the internet from a wide variety of different means, and in order to ensure that a website or app loads as intended for every user, no matter what browser or app or phone or computer they’re using, these sites need to know certain details about your method of access. But this seemingly innocuous data collection is also what powers fingerprinting.

Trackers stitch together your device’s properties like its display size, its operating system, your language preferences, and more to form your unique fingerprint. They match this pattern across sites and apps to identify you and target you with relevant ads.

Once a website captures your fingerprint, it’s possible for it to track you for up to 100 days — no matter how many safeguards you’ve put up on your browser.

Since all this takes place quietly in the background as you surf the internet, you can’t trace fingerprinting, nor is it possible for you to delete your fingerprints — like how you can in the case of third-party cookies. As your device’s fingerprint will always remain the same, this tracking method also can’t be limited through typical boundaries such as switching to a private window or clearing your browser’s cache.

“Fingerprinting is a threat to user privacy because it enables a nontransparent way for companies to track and identify users and devices,” says Patrick Jackson, the chief technology officer of Disconnect, a privacy app for iOS and Mac.

Finding a fix

There’s currently no great way to stop fingerprinting, but internet companies have started addressing the threat and looking for potential ways to deal with it. The Chromium-based browser Brave takes the most compelling shot at thwarting malicious fingerprinting that we’ve seen so far.

Brave’s solution is simple: Whenever a website requests the kind of data that could potentially enable fingerprinting, the browser obliges — but it also mixes in just enough noise or random information that it doesn’t end up crippling your web experience. This allows you to have a unique fingerprint for every session and every webpage. Therefore, trackers can no longer capture one single fingerprint of yours and match it across websites to follow you because your device will signal a different fingerprint every time.

In our tests, Brave was the only mainstream browser that passed the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Cover Your Tracks test, which determines how effectively your browser can protect against practices like fingerprinting.

Other browsers including Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox have had limited success with their existing anti-fingerprinting mechanisms. Unlike Brave, which takes a more dynamic approach to tackle fingerprinting, these apps have a one-size-fits-all implementation that attempts to limit how much information your device’s data websites can access and relies on a list of known fingerprinting domains to block them.

Hitting a moving target

The reason these outdated efforts are no longer effective is that fingerprinting is a broad, evolving concept. It’s a practice that has gotten increasingly more complex with the internet’s advancements and that becomes more sophisticated every year.

Some trackers, for instance, force your browser to draw on an invisible canvas on a web age. When your computer does that, it releases information like its screen’s resolution. Similarly, trackers can determine your fingerprint by how your device processes acoustic signals when it plays an audio file online.

Benoit Baudry, a software technology professor at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, believes it’s hard to mitigate fingerprinting “since its boundaries are fuzzy and keep changing.”

“A cookie has one single, specific purpose: To identify a user,” Baudry adds. “Meanwhile, browser fingerprinting ‘repurposes’ technology that is meant for something else. This is why it is much more difficult to grasp than cookies: there is not one specific script, object, or packet to intercept.”

In addition to capitalizing on essential web data, the other aspect that prevents browser makers from outright banning fingerprinting is because it’s also employed for positive purposes like fraud detection. When websites detect a user is attempting to sign in from a new fingerprint (which essentially means a new machine), they request additional data for authentication to make sure the source isn’t malicious.

However, experts like Zubair Shafiq, an associate computer science professor at the University of California, Davis, argue fingerprinting is “overkill for fraud detection use cases.”.

Several companies are, at the moment, working toward this exact goal — including Google, which is actively researching ways to curb fingerprinting.

Fingerprinting has largely flown under the radar so far since advertisers and tracking firms have had reliable and direct channels to profile users. Now, as the web’s biggest gatekeepers, including Google and Apple, crack down on traditional tracking frameworks like cookies, fingerprinting has been pushed into the spotlight and, if its adoption goes widespread, it might end up being the most significant threat to our privacy ever. And that’s where it seems to be headed.

The presence of fingerprinting trackers has doubled in websites since 2014 and Disconnect’s Jackson also mentions that in anticipation of cookie and Apple’s cross-app tracking ban, companies are “collecting vast amounts of device data to either compute (and collect) a fingerprint on the device or doing the computation on their servers with the raw data.”

Pierre Laperdrix, a researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research who’s been studying fingerprinting for over a decade, believes it will always remain a whack-a-mole game for internet companies. All they can do is stay a step ahead of trackers.

“In my opinion,” Laperdrix said, “I don’t think we can completely put an end to fingerprinting without a reengineering of the way browsers and servers work.”

Editors’ Choice

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Less than 30% of business have a plan to combat deepfakes, survey finds

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Deepfakes, or AI-generated videos that take a person in an existing video and replace them with someone else’s likeness, are multiplying at an accelerating rate. According to startup Deeptrace, the number of deepfakes on the web increased 330% from October 2019 to June 2020, reaching over 50,000 at their peak. That’s troubling not only because these fakes might be used to sway opinion during an election or implicate a person in a crime, but because they’ve already been abused to generate pornographic material of actors and defraud a major energy producer.

While much of the discussion to date around deepfakes has focused on social media, pornography, and fraud, it’s worth noting that deepfakes pose a threat to people portrayed in manipulated videos and their circle of trust. As a result, deepfakes also represent an existential threat to businesses, particularly in industries that depend on digital media to make important decisions. The FBI earlier this year warned that deepfakes are a critical emerging threat targeting businesses.

To help promote awareness, Attestiv, a data authentication startup, surveyed U.S.-based professionals about threats to their employers related to altered or manipulated digital media. Over 130 people across various industries responded to the questionnaire, including those working in IT, data services, health care, and financial services.

Over 80% of respondents said that manipulated media poses a potential risk to their organization, according to Attestiv. However, less than 30% say they’ve taken steps to mitigate fallout from a deepfake attack. Twenty-five percent of respondents claim they’re planning to take action, but 46% say that their organization lacks a plan or that they personally lack knowledge of the plan.

Attestiv also requested that respondents consider a possible solution to their potential deepfake problem. When asked, “What’s the best defense organizations can take against altered digital media?,” 48% of survey takers felt the best defense was automated detection and filtering solutions. Thirty-eight percent believed that training employees to detect deepfakes was a superior course of action.

“Training employees to detect deepfakes may not be a viable solution given the likelihood that they are rapidly becoming undetectable to human inspection,” the Attestiv report’s authors wrote. “It appears there may be a need for further education regarding the deepfake threat and the trajectory the technology is taking.”

Challenging road ahead

The fight against deepfakes is likely to remain challenging, especially as media generation techniques continue to improve. Earlier this year, deepfake footage of Tom Cruise posted to an unverified TikTok account racked up 11 million views on the app and millions more on other platforms. And when scanned through several of the best publicly available deepfake detection tools, they avoided discovery, according to Vice.

In an attempt to fight the spread of deepfakes, Facebook — along with Amazon and Microsoft, among others — spearheaded the Deepfake Detection Challenge, which ended last June. The challenge’s launch came after the release of a large corpus of visual deepfakes produced in collaboration with Jigsaw, Google’s internal technology incubator, which was incorporated into a benchmark made freely available to researchers for synthetic video detection system development.

More recently, Microsoft launched its own deepfake-combating solution in Video Authenticator, a tool that can analyze a still photo or video to provide a score for its level of confidence that the media hasn’t been artificially manipulated. The company also developed a technology built into Microsoft Azure that enables a content producer to add metadata to a piece of content, as well as a reader that checks the metadata to let people know that the content is authentic.


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