Welcome to the deep fake era.
Welcome to the dawn of the "deep fake" era. Michael Heim / Getty Images

Recently, decades-old footage of a "shirtless Bernie Sanders drunkenly singing with Soviets" surfaced.

Sponsored
The Stranger has last-minute discounts to PNB, ACT Theatre, Neumos, and On The Boards this weekend. Grab tickets before they're gone!

Is it real?

I don't know, but American officials are warning that we should all be asking ourselves that question whenever we watch videos—particularly viral political videos—in the run-up to the 2020 elections. "Deep Fake" technology, developed right here in Seattle, has made it possible to create false videos that seem so real, you might end up believing that's really former President Barack Obama calling Trump "a total and complete dipshit." Because you saw it with your own two eyes!

In DC, both Republican and Democratic leaders are now sounding the alarm, according to CNN:

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last May, Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said he believed deepfakes would be used in "the next wave of attacks against America and Western Democracies."

Rubio described a scenario in which a fake video or piece of audio is disseminated on the eve of an election, with the clip going viral and being cited by news outlets before analysts could determine it was fake.

The eve of the 2020 presidential election is still close to two years away, but get ready. That's a lot of time for people to perfect their deep fakes and launch them into the kind of virality that may place them in front of your eyeballs.