Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse by Nina Schick: a must-read

About the book

“In writing this book, it is my modest aim to help you understand how dangerous and untrustworthy our information ecosystem has become, and how its harms extend far beyond politics – even into our private and intimate life. It is my hope that this understanding can help us come together to bolster our defences and start fighting back. As a society, we need to be better at building resilience to the Infocalypse. Understanding what is happening is the first step.” Nina Schick

In Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse, Nina Schick warns us urgently of the impending information overload (known as the ‘Infocalypse’) and explains the dangerous political consequences of this Infocalypse, both in terms of national security and what it means for public trust in politics. Deep Fakes have been around for less than three years, to silence and for revenge and fraud. Government, business and society are completely unprepared.

Schick also unveils what it means for us as individuals, how Deep Fakes will be used to intimidate and to silence, for revenge and fraud, and how unprepared governments and tech companies are.

The malicious use of Deep Fakes is not only a real threat for democracy but they take the manipulation of voters to new levels. With the impending US election, and with vast amounts of money being spent of social media, it is expected that Deep Fakes will become a huge story later this year…

AI generated fake content is here for good, and we will have to figure how to navigate a world where seeing is no longer believing.


My review

This is a fascinating yet chilling book written by an extremely knowledgeable person. I’d describe her as an expert in misinformation, but that might be misleading! Ms Schick is a top expert about misinformation, so we couldn’t be learning about this worrying subject from a more qualified person.

We live in a post-truth society, post-truth being defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. Hence it’s also the age of meaningless three- or four-word slogans, bluster and cheating.

It’s not a great age to live in, most definitely not one to proud of, and it seems the worse is yet to come. We’re becoming increasingly familiar, unfortunately, with the blatant faking aka lying by governments, particularly the English-speaking ones, but it’s likely more and more sectors will follow suit. That is inevitably what happens when the people who should be setting the highest example fail to do so.

Nina Schick presents her findings and understanding in a clear, concise way. What she’s saying is pretty horrific but she doesn’t sensationalise it anyway, just backs up her claims and calmly moves on to the next point.

All is not lost, even though this phenomenon maybe here forever, although personally I think anything that’s based on dishonesty is unsustainable in the long term. Truth will out, as they say, even though it can take its time. But my optimism is simply based on emotion, whereas Ms Schick is writing from experience. The author makes us aware of the very serious problem, but also suggests how to approach it so that it doesn’t completely overwhelm us and leave us hiding under the bed covers. Personally I’m starting to feel less defeated by the ghastliness of Brexit having read her book.

‘Deep Fakes and the Infocalpyse’ makes for an informative, unnerving and necessary read.


About the author

As a political advisor to select technology firms, Schick is at the forefront of trends emerging from the worlds of data science, machine learning and AI. In Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse, Schick tells us what we need to do to prepare and protect ourselves. “Too often we build the cool technology and ignore what bad guys can do with it before we start playing catch-up. But when it comes to Deep Fakes, we urgently need to be on the front foot.”

Nina Schick is a political commentator, advisor and public speaker, specialising in how technology is reshaping politics in the 21st century.

Most recently, her work has seen her focusing on the evolution of disinformation, and the fallout generated by election interference in the US (and around the world) since 2016. Nina has advised global leaders including Joe Biden and Anders Fogh Rasmussen (the former Secretary General of NATO), through her research on next-generation disinformation and AI-generated deep fakes. She has also worked at the heart of historic campaigns, including on the presidential campaign, the Brexit referendum and with Emmanuel Macron. Half German and half Nepalese, she speaks seven languages and holds degrees from Cambridge University and University College London. She divides her time between London, Berlin and Kathmandu.