Thesis: Artificial Intelligence as a Disinformation Engine

May 13, 2020

The Manuscript

I completed this project for my senior thesis at the University of New Hampshire


This section expresses gratitude to those who provided mentorship, direction, expertise, wisdom, and support and contributed to completing this research.


Discusses the emergence of deepfakes, AI-generated synthetic media that can replace people in images or videos. Highlights the dangers of such technology in spreading disinformation and proposes digital literacy and new technologies as solutions.

Contemporary Disinformation

Explores the nature of disinformation, its historical context, and the transition from government-sponsored propaganda to AI-generated synthetic media. Emphasizes the increased reach and reduced cost of modern disinformation.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence

Examines how AI creates realistic synthetic media, particularly artificial narrow intelligence (ANI) and generative adversarial networks (GANs). Discusses the implications of AI's ability to autonomously generate convincing images, audio, and video.

The Role of Social Media

Analyzes how social media platforms contribute to the spread of disinformation through algorithms designed to maximize engagement. Discusses the challenges in detecting and preventing disinformation due to artificial engagement and manufactured amplification.

Fuel for the Engine

Considers potential positive applications of AI-generated media, such as in the entertainment industry, while addressing these technologies' ethical concerns and misuse, including involuntary pornography and ideological warfare.

Shutting Down the Engine

Argues against the feasibility of halting AI development in disinformation technologies. Compares the situation to nuclear weapons, suggesting that once such technology exists, it cannot be un-invented. Emphasizes the need for defense rather than prevention.

The Implications

Social Media

Discusses the responses of various social media platforms to disinformation and deepfakes. Highlights the challenges in balancing free speech with the need to combat harmful content.


Describes legislative efforts, such as the DEEPFAKES Accountability Act, to regulate synthetic media. Critiques the practicality and enforceability of such measures.

Ideological Challenges

Explores the broader philosophical and ethical implications of disinformation on democratic societies and the rational decision-making of individuals.


Awareness Through Digital Literacy

Advocates for digital literacy education to help individuals identify and critically evaluate disinformation.

Transparency Through New Technologies

Proposes technological solutions to provide context and transparency in media, such as cryptographic authentication systems.

Increase the Cost of Spam

Suggests making disinformation campaigns economically unviable through mechanisms like proof-of-work and digital currency-based incentives.


Summarizes the pervasive threat of AI-powered disinformation and the need for both awareness and technological solutions to mitigate its impact. Calls for a global effort to protect the integrity of information in the digital age.