As technology evolves in our digital landscape, it is becoming increasingly difficult to detect what’s fake from what’s real. Fake news, doctored pictures, and misleading videos are having real consequences on the world. For example, the website This Person Does Not Exist renders pictures of what seems to be actual people, but are in fact computer-generated images. Outside of the TPDNE portraits, the rest of this week’s list are actual people with relatable narratives. John Henry is a self-made entrepreneur who is interested in helping other business owners in New York City succeed while Amanda Cooksey is trying to make it big-time as a singer in the Music City. Read more about their stories in this edition of the Everipedia Internet Culture Roundup.
If you wanted something to show you that it’s the sign of the times, there is no better place to look than the website This Person Does Not Exist. Created by Uber software engineer Philip Wang, TPDNE using an artificial intelligence algorithm known as generative adversarial networks to create images of faces of people that look like they could be walking by you on the street. The same technology is utilized in controversial deep fakes which allow people to mix and match faces to random bodies with disturbing precision. Generative adversarial networks are a new technology whose full potential has yet to be explored, but it seems like its ability to manipulate video could make it as dangerous as dynamite to honest discourse. Perhaps, more public awareness and developing technology to detect generative adversarial networks could help mitigate the consequences later on.
Just like mad cow disease in the late ’90s, another similar sickness is in the news that draws parallels to the previous overexaggerated zombie apocalypse hype. Chronic Wasting Disease, otherwise known as Zombie Deer Disease, is an illness that makes the deer act abnormally and eventually waste away. It is not new, it was first recognized in the 1960s, but is seeing attention again due to the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research, Michael Osterholm, saying that it could mutate and infect humans. If that happens, I’m sure the first place we will hear about it is Twitter and it will be accompanied by some meme.
John Henry has been through the grind of business and wants to help others reach success as he did. The Harlem resident positioned himself to go from a doorman to successfully selling his first company for $1 million. Since then, he launched an incubator to grow the startup scene in Harlem and is now hosting the new VICELAND program HUSTLE. When I first saw the episode, the first thing that came to my mind was how the show does an excellent job at illustrating how entrepreneurship is alive in America’s Business Mecca and the adversity that all entrepreneurs must go through to be successful. The second thing I thought of was that every person and business are the perfect candidates for Everipedia pages. Henry himself was a good place to start.
Originally hailing from Florida, pop/country singer Amanda Cooksey now calls Nashville home and is on the come up. The former pageant contestant and athlete has slowly been making a name for herself with a number of music videos and playing shows in notable clubs throughout the US including B.B. Kings Orlando and the House of Blues Nashville. In one music review, the Queens of Country said that Amanda has “a voice like no other.” The last big pop country singer to come out of Nashville was Talyor Swift over a decade ago, so we are definitely due for another one to come out of the Music City!
Speaking of memes, one must not underestimate the importance of historians when it comes to documenting them. It’s hard to keep track of their development, evolution, and reach when we are living in the moment of them but that’s exactly what Brad Kim does. As the editor-in-chief of Know Your Meme, it is his job to guide meme scholars on the process of documenting the dankest content of our times. And with over 10 years of experience, Kim has seen memes grow from being considered harmless fun to being seen as objects of information warfare. Know Your Meme has been cited by outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post and paved the way for meme scholarship to be a serious undertaking.