Is ‘synthetic media’ the right name for media that is made to manipulate

Spent last week digging into what is being called ‘synthetic media’. I attended (the always amazing) NYC Media Lab 18 which had a panel ‘Great Synthetic Media Debate’ that discussed dynamics of this type of media, and a talk ‘Deepfakes and Other AI-Generate Synthetic Media: What Should We Fear? What Can We Do?’ by Sam Gregory from WITNESS which was significant in scope and implications.

‘synthetic media’ is being defined as  “algorithmically created or modified media ”   

This subject has been in the news because of deepfakes.

Deepfake, a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”,[1] is an artificial intelligence-based human image synthesis technique. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images or videos.  

The name ‘deepfake’ implies something not real, approaching it with discern is inferred in its name.  This is good.  The term ‘synthetic media’ fails at conveying meaning, intent and does not serve to warn the receptor.

The word ‘Synthetic’ implies something that is man-made, to be exact…

(of a substance) made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product.

This is something made from computational algorithms, that might be splitting hairs for some, but where we really fall short is divorcing it from intent.   This is not only man made – it’s made to manipulate.  

A media whose primary focus is to deceive to receiver, be it in art or politics.   

This post is not about the ethical implications of this medium.  I want to stay focused on foundational lexicon while we still can.  

‘manipulated media’ more clearly states the goal of the AI.  

A media that is disembodied  from context (intent) and providence.  Context and providence are critical interpretation tools. We should name it for what it is, since what it does negates the basic rule of seeing is believing.  

It is important to use an accurate descriptor, it is dangerous not to.

As we weigh in on plus and minuses of this type of media the early tl/dr is –  we are doing ourselves a disservice by not correctly naming it for what it is. Be it manipulated or some other term that more clearly states providence, context and intent.

(this is the first in a series on this subject: ….’Ripe receptors in manipulated media swarms, architected to move men to action.’) 

MED 092118


AI : Sloan Kettering’s Cozy Deal With Start-Up Ignites a New Uproar  [NYT]
In two meetings this month, staff pathologists confronted hospital leaders over the cancer center’s relationship with Paige.AI, some of them angered by the deal that would allow others to profit from their work.

THINK: The Decision Matrix: How to Prioritize What Matters [FSBLOG]
My strategy for triaging was simple. I separated decisions into four possibilities based on the type of decision I was making. Consequential and irreversible decisions are the ones that you really need to focus on.

AI:  on generative algorithms [/]

STORY TELLING: These Virtual Reality Films Are Blazing a New Trail in Storytelling and Art [Hyperallergic]

PRINT: THE VILLAGE VOICE (1955–2018) September 11, 2018 [ArtForum]
see also Seven Ways The Village Voice Made New York a Better Place  [NYT]

BLOCKCHAIN: The Private Blockchain Fallacy     []
But unfortunately most private blockchains are really just inefficient, insecure or simply stupid implementations in which a public blockchain-setup is used behind closed doors. This offers none of the benefits of that public version, but all of the downsides.

SOFTWARE: Carnegie Mellon is Saving Old Software from Oblivion []
The oldest application we’ve revived is Mystery House, a graphics-enabled game from the early 1980s for the Apple II computer. Another program is NCSA Mosaic, which people of a certain age might remember as the browser that introduced them to the wonders of the World Wide Web.





MED 092018


PRIVACY: Facebook and Twitter must comply with EU consumer rules or face sanctions [Reuters] Seven months after being told to bring their user terms in line with EU regulations, both Facebook and Twitter have yet to fully address all the issues, the European Commission said on Thursday

PRIVACY: John Hancock to only provide data-driven life insurance [CNBC]
Marianne Harrison, CEO of John Hancock, joins Power Lunch to discuss her company’s decision to only sell interactive life insurance policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones.

CRYPTO: National Museum of Computing to hold live Enigma code-breaking demo with a Bombe [TheRegister] As part of the World Computer Congress being held in Poland this Friday (21 September), the Bombe will be fired up and set to work decrypting messages sent from the eastern European country

PRIVACY: Data localisation: A matter of rule of law and economic development pdf



PUBLIC ART; Standing 26 feet tall and forged from painted steel, Isa Genzken’s yellow rose permanently installed at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. 

STORY: The Man Booker Prize announces 2018 shortlist [themanbookerprize]

VIDEO:  Ryoji Ikeda : point of no return *CAUTION: STROBE EFFECT [vimeo]

ART-TECH: String Art – from the Hand of a Robot

Looking forward to Fridays NYC medialab workshop  Deepfakes and Other AI-Generated Synthetic Media: What Should We Fear? What Can We Do?  Sam Gregory, WITNESS

As more sophisticated, more personalized, more convincing audio and video manipulation emerges how do we get beyond the apocalyptic discussion of the “end of trust in images and audio” and instead focus on what we can do about malicious deepfakes and other AI-manipulated synthetic media?  Based on WITNESS’ collaborations with technologists, researchers, journalists and human rights activists, we’ll explore types of deepfake and synthetic media, brainstorm threat models and review possible technical, journalistic and policy solutions available to fight these malicious uses.

Next week 

9-26 LIVE/PRIVACY:   Examining Safeguards for Consumer Data Privacy
Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing


Todays banner image self portrait of an surveillance  AI  by  Rafael Lozano-Hemmer as part of his exhibition Confirmation Bias at bitforms gallery nye

MED 091918


MUSIC: Music Modernization Act Passes in Senate With Unanimous Support  [Billboard]
It was over 15 years ago I testified on the hill about these rates.  Things move slow.

       TECH: Topical Collection on Technology and Addiction [Springer]

AI: AMI is a program at Google that brings artists and engineers together to realize projects using Machine Intelligence.

AI: SAP’s Guiding Principles for Artificial Intelligence [SAP] 

BOOKS French bookshops revolt after prize selects novel self-published on Amazon [Guardian]  

GEAR:The battle for sneakerheads [FT] 

REVIEW: ‘Garry Winogrand’ Pictures an Artist and His World [NYT]

OPED: We Know Everything Worth Knowing About Mark Zuckerberg [Bloomberg]
TL/DR Over his skis

PRIVACY:  Map of LINKNYC surveillance devices [GoogleMaps]  Imported locations into a google map.

CONTENT: The Circle: a reality TV show where contestants interact only via social network (  “The players rate each other – like in the Black Mirror episodes “

ROBOT:String Art – from the Hand of a Robot []

MED 7.18.18



Twitter  Chronological order observations

I switched to a cron timeline and have not looked back since.  It is the only way I can use Twitter. Some bullets on the expierence

  • RT’s ruin Twitter
  • Less click bait and polarizing Tweets  
  • immediately pruned legacy followers that were not relevant
  • Overall follow count reduced increasing signal
  • No more breaking news that are days old.
  • Honing my graph to be more symmetrical
  • When I look at the PTL ranked vs chronological you can see how polarizing the ranked one is
  • Your likes ended up in your followers stream –   No more of this crazy behavior either in your timeline or in your followers .

MUSIC:  Been keeping an ongoing list of tracks that are used in torture [lithub]

BUSINESS: TomTom shares crash as carmakers opt for Google Maps  [Reuters]

FBI: FBI releases file on the author of the Anarchist Cookbook:

ART: NY Art Book Fair 2018 – Printed Matter  [PrintedMatter]

OVERVIEW: Hyperallergic run down  [Hyperallergic]
SIGNINGS: Art Book signing schedule [ArtBook] 
TICKET: Accelerated Logic, 2018 by Ryan Gander. Printed, laser die-cut orange acrylic stencil containing annotations made by the artist, to page 11 of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. [NY Art Book Fair Entry Ticket Edition] 

HACK : Place hacking 2018 Best of so far

Mc Donalds
Trump Hotel
Aretha Franklin Street


Tweets I did not send yesterday.

When I headed home last night I found a couple of hundred people all dressed in white Head to toe in front of my apartment building, I knew right away that it was the secret meeting spot for the fall…. Dinner En Blanc on Governors island

My “‘Save The Robots” t-shirt has moved from edgy when it was issued by seminal NYC after hours club. Moved to iconic, then ironic at the turn of the century. In this time of AI’s it’s now turned the corner to sarcastic.

Good to see Jim Thirlwell at Wolfgang Tillmans opening the other night, went to see him with Matt Johnson last night at the Beacon

Asking for a friend re: ‘psychoactive’ or ‘hallucinogenic’ has anyone seen anything ever? or know someone who has?

Walking down 6th ave at noon, see un-named rockstar looking at his jag with jersey plates after his parallel parking job. As a rule I ignore celebs when I run into them in NYC mostly as a sign of respect, I spotted this one as I approached and despite having met him several times in a prior life saw no reason to do anything more than nod. So He’s walking away when I pass it and spot the front end of his hood fully mashed into the ball peen on the hitch of the truck in front of him . I say hey …. Did you see this. He walks over like only he can squarely looks at it, I could not bare to see his face, having turned to continue my walk to the green market


MED 9.17.18



LIVE: Code Commerce Sept. 17 and 18 [ReCode]

TREND: Machines will do more tasks than humans by 2025: WEF
“By 2025 more than half of all current workplace tasks will be performed by machines as opposed to 29 percent today,”  Simultaneously, rapid changes in machines and algorithms, or computer processes that are designed to solve problems, “could create 133 million new roles in place of 75 million that will be displaced between now and 2022,” the group forecast.

TOOL: Funding Choices – Google’s new tool for GDPR compliance and content monetization  [fundingchoices]
Currently in beta, is an easy-to-use messaging tool that can help you comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and recover lost revenue from ad blocking users.

AI We hold people with power to account. Why not algorithms?   Hannah Fry [GUARDIAN]
All around us, algorithms provide a kind of convenient source of authority: an easy way to delegate responsibility, a short cut we take without thinking. Who is really going to click through to the second page of Google results every time and think critically about the information that has been served up? Or go to every airline to check if a comparison site is listing the cheapest deals? Or get out a ruler and a road map to confirm that their GPS is offering the shortest route?

LEXICON: Gell-Mann amnesia effect [Wikipedia]
Gell-Mann amnesia effect labels a commonly observed problem in modern media,[2] where one will believe everything they read from a news source even after they come across an article about something they know well that is completely incorrect. 

ART:  Jon Rafman  The Mental Traveller [fondazionefotografia]
The Mental Traveller, the first large-scale exhibition of works by Jon Rafman to be shown in an Italian contemporary art institution. September 14, 2018–February 24, 2019  Palazzina dei Giardini  Corso Cavour 2  Modena Italy

TECH: Building bicycles for our minds  [John Borthwick]
After a ten year run, the technology platforms of today are atrophying, cracks are showing, and a new era of technology is starting to emerge. I want to discuss a framework for thinking about what’s next. But first, a bit on those cracks, each of which could be an individual post. Here is a short summary:

MED 9.15.18

– Mediaeater Digest Sat. 15th September 2018  –
Dispute The Text

STUDY:  Trends in the Diffusion of Misinformation on Social Media [Stanford]

We measure trends in the diffusion of misinformation on Facebook and Twitter between Jan- uary 2015 and July 2018. We focus on stories from 570 sites that have been identified as producers of false stories. Interactions with these sites on both Facebook and Twitter rose steadily through the end of 2016. Interactions then fell sharply on Facebook while they con- tinued to rise on Twitter, with the ratio of Facebook engagements to Twitter shares falling by approximately 60 percent.

ART: Agnès Varda on inequality, Godard and working with JR [FT]

The meeting of old and new is a recurring theme, and often made manifest in the ways technology has affected country life. “We’re slowly changing our whole way of living, especially in big cities, the way we interconnect,” says JR. “We actually disconnect with each other in a much bigger way than people in villages. They keep a real connection, a more physical connection.”

PRIVACY:  How Game Apps That Captivate Kids Have Been Collecting Their Data [NYT]

The study this spring showed not only that more than half of children’s apps on Android were sharing tracking ID numbers but also that 5 percent collected children’s location or contact information without their parents’ permission.

PRIVACY: Report: Anonymity could be the answer to feeling happier online [TNW]

What I learned is that while many people believe that social media has a largely negative impact, the majority believe that these issues aren’t being addressed. Additionally, two-thirds of social media users said that they wish social media was a more positive place.  (Good news is a business model] -ed)

PRIVACY: Google china prototype links searches to phone numbers []

A censored search engine for China that links users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, thus making it easier for the Chinese government to monitor people’s queries, The Intercept can reveal.

The search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, was designed for Android devices, and would remove content deemed sensitive by China’s ruling Communist Party regime, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.

PROGRAMING: Whispering Pines 10 [wisperingpines]

An episodic internet soap opera, with original music and libretto by Hallett.  The latest episode in Shana Moulton’s cult video series is an internet soap opera, with music by Nick Hallett.

PROGRAMING:   Data Space: The Architecture and Impact of Data Centres Podcast []

This episode was triggered by our encounter with the first data centre to be fully embraced as Architecture. Designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects, the AM4 data tower in Amsterdam only recently appeared on the city’s skyline. Being taller than most buildings in the city, and cutting an impressively slick, windowless appearance, the data skyscraper is hard to miss. Does this design treatment for data architecture signal a tipping point of data centres becoming more visible and acceptable elements of cities? For the podcast, we got inside the heavily secured AM4 data tower to see, hear and feel the internet, and talked to several people about data space.

TOOL: Guitar Dashboard []

An interactive music theory dashboard, including a circle of fifths for guitarists.

CITY:  The Unbearable Sameness of Cities [NewYorker] 

There’s no solution to the problem of this soul-dissipating uniformity, if problem is even the correct description. Yet you’ll still feel, walking into that cozy-looking bistro in Utica, a tugging in your gut, a whisper in the back of your mind that this somehow is all too familiar. Maybe you’ll shrug it off as déjà vu. But you’ll know different, deep in your soul: You’ve seen those fucking lights at Ikea.

CITY: America’s Art Scenes Off the Beaten Track [WSJ]

Yet beyond these global hubs, there exist smaller, self-sustaining art scenes that appear to thrive in good markets and bad. Santa Fe, N.M., is one such “microclimate.” Aspen, Colo., is another.  Some hot spots, like Palm Springs, Calif., benefit from vacation-worthy vistas or cheery climates, but other settings may come as a surprise.

LIVE: Code Commerce Sept. 17 and 18 [ReCode]

Part of our live stream program guide each week

TREND: Cord-Cutters Beware: Streaming TV Prices Are Marching Higher [WSJ]

The higher prices have also narrowed the value gap between new and traditional TV, since cord-cutters must still pay for broadband service. Cable-TV packages still cost more than their online imitators, though cable companies often charge higher rates for standalone broadband service as an enticement to bundle internet and video.

ARCHIVE:  Bjork – Unravel Radio City Music Hall .mpg 6th October 2001 “He’ll never return it“  MOV00031

(had posted this to youtube but somehow that account and videos have gone MIA.  Thankfully I maintain an archive. The web has no memory, contrary to popular belief.  It was in response to 911 this year and how music and art led nyc back to itself again.  Was Twittering on about and went to link to it and bam it was gone from the interweb.  (this clip on loop would be just fine for me forever)

banner photo – series of frame grabs of Miguel Almague reporting on Florence. 

MED 9.14.18

– Mediaeater Digest Friday 14th September 2018  –
Dispute The Text

BIZ: Where in the World Is Larry Page? [Bloomberg]
Alphabet said in a statement that it had offered its head of global affairs for the hearing and that “enabling Larry to focus on the other bets and long-term technical problems is exactly what Alphabet was set up for.” The company referred questions to Dan Doctoroff, head of its urban infrastructure unit, Sidewalk Labs, and former CEO of Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg Businessweek’s parent.

[So let me get this straight – they wanted to send the guy who built the stealth ring of steal spy machines around the city – WTF I totally would have understood an answer like “F*** that I am not listing to Ted Cruz insipid questions”, but this? come on, Larry what are you thinking – ED)

PRIVACY: Google Knows Where You’ve Been, but Does It Know Who You Are? [NYT]

AI: Google’s Next Generation Music Recognition [Google AI Blog]
deep neural networks to bring low-power, always-on music recognition to mobile devices.

PRIVACY:  Big Brother in Berlin [Politico]
As Germany dabbles in state surveillance, facial-recognition technology raises privacy concerns.

INTV: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey talked to NYU’s Jay Rosen for an hour, on the record. []

LIFE: Jeff Bezos morning routine. [Twitter]

-Newspaper, coffee, breakfast with the kids
-First meeting at 10a
High IQ meetings before lunch
-By 5p, rather save it for the next day
-Says he gets 8 hours of sleep unless he’s traveling

TOOL: This Twitter Bot Will Tell You if a Login Page is Phishing [Motherboard]

ART/CON: GROUND CONTROL, PARIS  Nov 12th-16th, 2018 []

ART: Double Lives showcases the sound-based creations of people better known as artists than musicians.  The Artists Who Led Secret Lives as Musicians  double life . :  Visual artists make music

ART: Face Trade – Art vending machine that trades mugshots for “free” portraits  []

Random link round-up

New iPhone price graph  – vs –  Valuations of luxury-goods co’s
step graphs ftw

DC facebook-s-zuckerberg-to-testify-in-november-in-investor-suit [Bloomberg]

Woman loses NASA internship after Twitter fight with member of space council  [NBC4I]

Sony Finally Admits It Doesn’t Own Bach and It Only Took a Bunch of Public Pressure [EFF]

In Gotham right now $52K for curtains is not that out of line , The fact that you had to move from a landmark NYC hotel to an apartment, cause the Chinese is the buried lede -ed

Number of times the words “fuck” and “fucking” appear in Woodward’s “Fear”: 100, pages 1-34 

Newscaster (1010 wins news) – “Florence is moving at the pace of NYC traffic about 5 miles an hour”




Media, entertainment & technology show Show IBC   :
2018 – RAI Amsterdam, 13th-18th September 2018

IBC Links

Audio Engineering Society (AES):
Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS):
Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA):
European Broadcasting Union (EBU):
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE®):
Video Services Forum (VSF):

More information about standards and open specifications is available at:

SMPTE ST 2110:
VSF Technical Recommendations:

MED 9.13.18

– Mediaeater Digest Thursday 13th September 2018  –
Dispute The Text

LIVE: Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century [FTC]

PRIVACY:  UK mass surveillance ruled unlawful in landmark judgment. [BigBrotherWatch]

PRIVACY: GCHQ data collection regime violated human rights, court rules [Guardian]

       UX: Optimized desktop Twitter.  [twitter query]

PRESS RELEASE;  Campaigners win vital battle against UK mass surveillance at European Court of Human Rights  [privacyinternational]

STREAMING: Reducing Latency Video Streaming Without the Delay [BBC]

ELECT:  Tech:NYC election guide,  [TechNYC]

TOOL : What-If Tool [Google]

ARTS: Writer Luc Sante Explores the Storied Lives of Cities, Past and Present [CITYBEAT]

MED 9.12.18

– Mediaeater Digest Wednesday 12th September 2018  –
Dispute The Text

LIVE:   Apple Special Event  From the Steve Jobs Theater. [Apple]
Watch live September 12 at 10 a.m. PDT.

LIVE: Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century [FTC]
Hearings start tomorrow – full schedule on the click, first one up FTC Chairman Joe Simons will present opening remarks, followed by two days of discussion by a distinguished set of panelists who will discuss the following topics:  the current landscape of competition and consumer protection law and policy; whether the U.S. economy has become more concentrated and less competitive; the regulation of consumer data; antitrust law and the consumer welfare standard; …

LAW: EU approves controversial internet copyright law, including ‘link tax’ and ‘upload filter’ [VERGE] . – (The death of memes + link tax -ed)
Article 11 is intended to give publishers and newspapers a way to make money when companies like Google link to their stories, while Article 13 requires platforms like YouTube and Facebook to scan uploaded content to stop the unlicensed sharing of copyrighted material. Critics say these two provisions pose a dire threat to the free flow of information online, and will be open to abuse by copyright trolls and censors.

PAPER:  Scientists warn of potential serious health effects of 5G [pdf] (
Another view of 5G … We the undersigned, more than 180 scientists and doctors from 35 countries, recommend a moratorium on the roll-out of the fifth generation, 5G, for telecommunication until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry

TWITTER: Nearly 600 Russia-linked Twitter accounts tweeted about the Affordable Care Act and U.S. health policy from 2014 through this past May, new data show [WSJ]

Round up

UX: The Dark (Patterns) Side of UX Design [PDF]
PRIVACY: Google’s location privacy practices are under investigation in Arizona [WAPO]
ART: Conserve The Sound
CRYPTO:  Digging into Browser-Based Crypto Mining (
NY:  Brooklyn Book Festival  [BrooklynBookFestival]
PAPER: Deep image reconstruction from human brain activity [BioRxiv]