The ‘deepfake’ video ‘Across Capitalism’ depicts a burlesque portrait of Donald Trump reciting the slightly altered lyrics of the Beatles song ‘Across the Universe’. This version is part of the ‘decay series’ that deconstruct the previous representations to produce further readings. For the original content his voice and the video were partially computer-generated with the help of neural networks that were trained with his speech and image patterns. The intention was never to deceive or mislead people with it. It was meant to be a parody, a caricature of a man, and of the world system we all live in.
There is already a widespread worry because of the possible misuse of ‘deepfake’ videos. One of the concerns is related to their potential altering impact on upcoming elections. In some countries, we already can see the effects of how the tissue of truth was altered by the political powers. We believed for a moment that more information could give us greater freedom and could engender better debates. Instead, what we see is that our societies are oversaturated with noise, people are more suspicious and distrustful. We are being lied to constantly and when everyone is accusing everyone else of lying, one cannot distinguish anymore the truth. If these lies persist, we start to believe that they are true and our mind becomes colonised.
Of course whether ‘deepfakes’ will represent a real danger it will depend on how this technology will be used by those who create lies to gain more profit and power. In human history – a history of wars and glorified tribalism – the power belonged always to those who had more wealth and access to the most valuable resources. Now, power is linked to the media and spectacle-driven economy, and people’s attention has become the most precious currency. Those who reap the benefits from this have the instruments to control people’s lives. In this intrusion, what it remains for us is the eternal consumption of goods that only provide the illusion of liberty and keeps us in a state of lethargy. Welcome, we live now in the age of alternative facts, post-truth politics, fake news, and in the world of Trump and Putin. However, they are not the cause of all these phenomena, they are only the most shocking symptoms.
It is clear that the capitalist ’totalitarian economic’ system creates and shapes our world, redefines how we relate to everything, and completely transforms human connections. This also means that slowly, we will no longer be able to influence the way we want to live.
Asking the question ’When will we decide the end of capitalism?’ can only be fictional rather than real and we could never hear it from those who personify the actual system in its most glorious ways. Why is it that those who gain their profit and power from the system are never able to analyse or criticise their apparatus?
It seems that it is impossible to have any ‘decision’ on a collective level before understanding first how our world is conditioned by the fact that we are not capable of thinking together. This is why the objective of the question is rather to initiate thinking about our future beyond our limits and capabilities. Why it is so difficult to envision our world without division that surpasses capitalism, and to make the ideas about a world of commons a reality.