Newsletter 17 - The Post-Truth Era

Hi friends, Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror author Paul James Keyes here with another newsletter!

Last time I talked about the concept of the self circle map and how emotional regulation can be achieved by removing others from your sense of self. [LINK TO NEWSLETTER 16 - THE SELF CIRCLE]. Today, I want to talk about deepfakes and the post-truth world we now find ourselves in.

In recent years deepfake videos have become very convincing, and harder to distinguish from the real deal. Whenever deepfake-busting software is able to detect that a video or image is faked, the techniques that were used to determine the fake are fed back into the generative AI to make the next fake even more undetectable. Voices and video can be faked to make it look like anybody has said or done anything. Of course Brittany Spears has been embroiled into a controversy—videos on her TikTok account appeared to show another person using Brittany’s face as a filter, posting as if she is Brittany on her actual account! I refuse to fact check that any further, but the point is deepfakes are here and they are here to stay!

Another word for deepfakes could simply be misinformation. Deepfakes are typically computer generated footage of celebrities or politicians, but AI generated imagery has already advanced to the point of allowing any random person to generate pictures of anyone in any style, including realistic.

What this has done is forced us to doubt what we see presented to us. On the flip side of the problem, people can now claim something was a deepfake when it really was them, and suddenly the lie sounds a lot more believable. Just like we can’t believe everything we read on the internet, we can’t believe every video we watch now either.

Being in a post-truth world has a lot of nasty implications, especially politically. Enemy states can use it against one another to mislead populations. People can have pornography made of them, which is a mental assault if nothing else. If people believe that type of deepfake is real, the implications can be life threatening. The fact that someone could literally train an AI off a handful of pictures of you, and then superimpose your head on somebody else’s naked body in a convincing way does not bode well for the future of bullying.

There are so many nefarious use cases of deepfakes, it’s no wonder they are banned in a lot of places. But banning something doesn’t ever really stop it—especially not something as powerful as deepfakes on the internet. How many future scandals the world across will be no more than a convincing narratives combined with fake photos or videos? Has this technique already been used to sway the opinions of a population?

You may remember a certain video of Hilary Clinton back in 2016 when she was running for president, where she looked down right strange, doing weird facial movements that made her look like she was having a stroke. That wasn’t a deepfake, but it was altered footage, slowed down and warped to make her look like there was something wrong with her. The implication that something was wrong instills the idea of weakness, which certainly changed the way some people saw her at the time.  Similar techniques were used to make Donald Trump appear more orange than usual. And again, the same type of thing was used to make Joe Biden look sleepy and odd in certain footage—although that might actually have just been him. The point is it’s impossible to tell anymore. I worry for our future.

Sometimes the footage is obviously altered—experts knew this— but not everyone is an expert on such things, and not everyone listens to experts. There were certainly those who believed what they saw. Deepfakes bring this type of misinformation attack to a whole new level.

Until next time, stay safe out there—any question everything!

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Newsletter 16 - The Self Circle

Hi friends, Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror author Paul James Keyes here with another newsletter!

Last time I talked about the dangers of talking to aliens in your head if you happen to be an undiagnosed schizophrenic. [LINK TO NEWSLETTER 15 - MANIFEST HORROR]. Today, I want to continue talking about the mind with a concept known as the self circle. The self circle is a mental slate or map in which you associate every object or person you come across with your self. It’s a psychological concept that can be used in brain hacking to help you regulate your emotions better.

We can picture this map as a circle, in which you are at the very center. Around you at varying distances is everything you have learned to relate with your self.

When you were a baby and you discovered something new, the first thing you did was place this new person or object on your self circle. The closer to you that you placed this object, the more important it is to your sense of self. Your mother or primary caretaker was probably the first person added to your self circle, and they were probably placed fairly close to you. In fact, babies tend to think that their mother is actually an external part of themselves rather than another entity with autonomy. It takes a while for babies to understand their place in this world, as well as the places of everything around them.

People struggle when they lose their parents later in life. Part of the reason why it is so difficult to lose a parent (not the only reason, mind you), is that you literally lose your sense of self if you have them placed on your self circle.

Okay, so back to baby you. The next thing you discover is a stuffed animal. You think it’s a part of you, so you place it on your self circle. And then you lose it, and you cry because a part of you is gone. But then you realize it was never really a part of you, and you slowly remove it from your self circle in your mind. It turns out, you have the power to decide what and who goes on your self circle map. And it also turns out, it’s better to have less.

We, as humans, become upset when our sense of self is threatened. We become upset if anything on our self circle is threatened as well. If your favorite cup breaks, it was YOUR cup, and you are saddened. If a random cup breaks that wasn’t on your self circle, it doesn’t bother you so much. What I’m trying to say is that emotional regulation can be controlled by the placement of objects on your self circle.

Random example: Your best friend is not you, and their drama is their own and not yours. When you feel yourself becoming emotional about something, that is a good time to stop and think about why that topic is making you so emotional. In the end, everything you care about is somewhere on your self map, but things will bother you less if you can rationally realize that something is not you and should be further away from the center of your circle.

It’s good to build a little bit of personal space around you on your self map. You need to push everything back a little bit. People with good mental control and emotional regulation understand when something is themselves and within their power and when it is external.  If you have placed anything or anyone too close to your center, at some point it may be a good ideas to start removing objects. It’s basically just letting go. It doesn’t mean the object or person can’t be important to your life, it just means that you renounce the mental strain of protecting that object as strongly as you do your own sense of self.

Your sense of self should be sacred to you—an iron pillar that holds up the foundation of your life. Remembering that others are truly ‘other’ sounds simple, but the subtle shift in thinking can really help take away the emotional baggage or turmoil that could otherwise have been triggered inside of you upon anything negative happening to these other people or things.

Refine your self circle, and everything becomes easier. Many problems become more obvious to resolve. You also realize that not all problems are yours to solve in the first place. A lot of times, we bear the crosses of others, and that emotionally drains us while also not really helping the people around us that we hold dearest.

Until next time, stay safe out there!

Amazon Author Page:
Freebie: Into the Beyond - Part 1: Fated - A Fantasy Horror Series




Wrought by Fire
Ashen Sky
Howls on the Wind
Into the Beyond - Part 1: Fated
Into the Beyond - Part 2: Far From Human
Into the Beyond - Part 3: Fires of Heaven

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