154 - Stephanie Lepp on Pro-Social Deepfakes, Post-Normal Science, and The Future of "Reality"
This week I chat with artist Stephanie Lepp, producer of Infinite Lunchbox, the Reckonings podcast, and — most excitingly, for me — Deep Reckonings, a stunning new project exploring the “pro-social” uses of AI-generated “deepfakes” and other synthetic media for education, therapy, and other beneficial outcomes.
While I’ve been speculating on the ominous (albeit numinous) social and psychological consequences of deepfakes since my 2017 sci-fi short “An Oral History of The End of ‘Reality’”, it never really occurred to me that these tools aren’t just dangerous but potentially healing and transformative. Stephanie, however, has made it very clear in her new videos, and in her extensive statement for the project, that sometimes all we need to imagine a better world is to see it faked convincingly.
In this discussion, we explore how deepfakes can expand and enrich the potent benefits of earlier media like theater and the novel; why it’s so controversial to portray wrongdoers finally accepting accountability and moral leadership, even when it’s an explicit fiction; and how science itself is going to have to change to accommodate a more nuanced and multi-dimensional understanding of truth.
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Intro and outro music is from Skytree’s new LP of spacey downtempo electronica, Infraplanetary, which I highly encourage you to purchase.
Enjoy, and thanks for listening!