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We can remember it for you wholesale


Speaking of the uses and abuses of increasing computing power:

Compare the lived reality where people interact, mostly in peace, and go about their lives with the Trump-centered, fake world available on social media.

In the real world, Trump hasn’t been charged with anything. On Twitter, fake photos of his arrest generated by artificial intelligence have been viewed millions of times.

In the real world, prosecutors have to form a methodical criminal case before they indict a defendant. On social media, Trump says everything is part of a plot against him.

Positing the idea of violent retribution into the echo chamber of his Truth Social platform early Friday, Trump said it is “known that potential death & destruction” that would be “catastrophic for our Country” would result if a charge is brought against him.

In a post Thursday, Trump went into all caps – the typographical equivalent of screaming – to declare his innocence and add, “OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL.”

The veiled threats place a new form of pressure on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who has already been threatened by Republicans in Congress with an investigation. Without naming Bragg in the Friday post, Trump said anyone who would charge him with a crime is “a degenerate psychopath that truely (sic) hates the USA!” . . .

The photos of Trump being arrested were created in jest by Eliot Higgins, founder of the investigative journalism group Bellingcat, who asked an AI art generator to make a photo of “Donald Trump falling down while being arrested,” according to The Washington Post.

“I was just mucking about,” Higgins told the Post. “I thought maybe five people would retweet it.”

Bellingcat, ironically, uses social media posts and other digital data to prove facts, uncovering crimes and investigating atrocities. CNN worked with Bellingcat, for instance, to uncover the Russian operatives who apparently tried to poison the now-jailed dissident leader Alexey Navalny. The group has also used social media to track down apparent war crimes in Ukraine.

The fake photos, while requiring a double take, were clearly not real. But it is that first impression that can be misleading – and lasting. They fed Trump’s narrative of persecution, a visual manifestation of the drama he puts into his posts.

There’s more and more of this online, and it’s getting harder and harder to tell fiction from reality.

Earlier this month, CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan had an incredible video report on the power of AI-generated audio. In addition to magically mimicking Anderson Cooper, he used an AI generator to call his parents. The computer sounded like his voice, but it was not O’Sullivan talking. While his mother later said O’Sullivan’s Irish accent felt off during the conversation, she did not catch it in real time.

“When we enter this world where anything can be fake – any image, any audio, any video, any piece of text, nothing has to be real – we have what’s called the liar’s dividend, which is anybody can deny reality,” Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information, told O’Sullivan.

The ability to create a Liar’s Simulacra of reality is something cretins like Trump can and will exploit to greatly destructive effect.

And that fantasy world does and will feature an endless series of pseudo-events, broadcast constantly by Fox’s Book of Martyrs:

Former President Donald Trump is set to hold a campaign rally Saturday in Waco, Texas – returning to the trail amid his warnings of “death & destruction” resulting from investigations into his actions.

The rally at the Waco Regional Airport is a return to the mega-rallies reminiscent of Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, as the Republican field for the 2024 presidential race begins to take shape.

The former president’s return to his favorite event staging comes as he is faced with investigations in New York City over a hush money payment, Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith over classified documents the FBI found at Mar-A-Lago, his attempts to steal the 2020 election and his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

In recent days, the former president has made increasingly bellicose remarks about those probes, including predicting last week his own indictment and arrest in Manhattan – something that has not come to pass – and urging supporters to protest.

Raging against Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg on his Truth Social social media platform Friday, Trump said criminal charges could lead to “potential death & destruction” and “could be catastrophic for our Country.”

“PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT!,” Trump said in another post.

On Thursday, he said Bragg “would rather indict an innocent man and create years of hatred, chaos, and turmoil, than give him his well deserved ‘freedom.’ The whole Country sees what is going on, and they’re not going to take it anymore. They’ve had enough!”

Thirty years ago this month.

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