Defeating Deepfakes: Elias Christeas of Lighthouse Digital Marketing How We Can Identify Convincingly Real Fake Video, Pictures, and Writing, And How We Can Push Back
Eliminate distraction. Make the tough calls. Cut the habit, groups, people, and information out of your life that aren’t serving you. This seems drastic. But it’s the only way you will let good in, and flourish. Dead weight is dead weight. Don’t be Jacob Marley who build their cross one link at the time.
Most of us are very impressed with the results produced by generative AI like ChatGPT, DALL-E and Midjourney. Their results are indeed very impressive. But all of us will be struggling with a huge problem in the near future. With the ability for AI to create convincingly real images, video, and text, how will we know what is real and what is fake, what is reality and what is not reality? See this NYT article for a recent example. This is not just a problem for the future; it is already a struggle today. Media organizations are struggling with a problem of fake people, people with AI-generated faces and AI-generated text, applying to do interviews. This problem will only get worse as AI gets more advanced. In this interview series, called “Defeating Deepfakes: How We Can Identify Convincingly Real Fake Video, Pictures, and Writing, And How We Can Push Back,” we are talking to thought leaders, business leaders, journalists, editors, and media publishers about how to identify fake text, fake images and fake video, and what all of us can do to push back against disinformation spread by deepfakes. As a part of this series we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Elias Christeas of Lighthouse Digital Marketing.
Elias Christeas is the founder of Lighthouse Digital Marketing in Sarasota, FL. Trained as a classical direct-response copywriter from masters in the industry, Elias takes great pride in delivering sales copy that’s emotionally charged, impactful, and relevant. As a patent-pending AI inventor, he’s got a lot to say about the rise of the machines.
Thank you so much for joining us. Before we dive in, our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you share with us the “backstory” about how you got started in your career?
Thanks so much for including me in this series. I ended up in marketing before I really discovered that it was more of a calling for me. While living in Los Angeles, I ran a business where I quickly discovered the revenue potential related with online marketing. Long story short, I eventually discovered that my customers really loved a product story. I spent a lot of time weaving intricate tales and details to capture interest and illicit a response from my target market. I still do that but paired with SEO. It’s a winning combination. I love generating results for my clients deploying strategies that have taken me decades to develop.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
Well, there have been many. Something totally random that just came to mind was my meeting Al Pacino. He was a customer of mine for many years and our paths crossed a few times casually while I was living in Beverly Hills. It was really fun to see my buddy Al on Beverly Blvd. when I was just outside a café eating a sandwich or something.
But I was totally starstruck when we first met. I had that crazy spinning room experience. Short of breath, etc. But I did my best to pull it together. And when he extended his hand for me to shake, I realized that he was just a person. Like everyone else. On this Earth. Doing his thing. This moment had meaning for me because it made me realize that no matter who they are, people are just people — with wants, needs, hopes, fears, and dreams. That kind of understanding has helped me connect with just about anyone I encounter.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
OMG. You need mistakes and failure? I was so good at that — especially at the beginning. I was very successful at being a failure in the early days. Something that just came to mind — I flew to San Francisco for a business opportunity. I did it on a whim. I was communicating with the founder of a startup. I was stoked to be a part of something that appeared to be really exciting.
Mond you, I said, appeared. So I get there, only to discover that this business opportunity was a total scam. I couldn’t believe how I got duped. But even worse, I maxed out my credit card at the time for the one-way plane ticket to San Francisco. I was stuck there! I couldn’t get home!
I ended up hitch-hiking back to Los Angeles which took me about 19 hours. Lesson learned? Try to have a way to filter the good opportunities from the bad ones.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I was resistant to success in my 20s — though I didn’t realize that’s what was going on with me. Now that I’ve enjoyed finding my way into a fulfilling day-to-day, I teach others how to do the same. I have a quarterly masterclass called the Profitability Process where I teach marketers looking to break into the industry and realize a 6-figure income — though I teach them how to make more than that.
For the benefit of our readers, can you share why you are an authority about the topic of Deepfakes?
The idea of duplicate content is a major factor in SEO. I love when inexperienced know-it-alls brag about how easy it is to generate content and post it to a site in minutes. What they don’t realize is that they’re producing the same material as all the other yahoo-content-producers. This kills their ability to rank. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Humans need humans. And we need that connection in marketing. It’s something I can’t explain, but I can feel AI writing. And now with so many tools, I can identify it, and destroy it, too.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main parts of our interview. Let’s start with a basic set of definitions so that we are all on the same page. Can you help define what a “Deepfake” is? How is it different than a parody or satire?
Well, a parody or a satire is something that mimics real life — but calls attention to itself — for the sake of educating the end-user, usually through entertainment. In other words, a movie that’s a social or political satire might deal with a lot of hot-button themes, but we tolerate it because it’s designed “to be funny,” and is only a movie after all. A deepfake, as we are seeing it now, is the replacement of human output with machine output — in a manner that is assumed will go undetected.
Can you help articulate to our readers why Deepfakes should be a serious concern right now, and why we should take measures to identify them?
Authenticity is key. We have survived and communicated because of what has been seen as a real interaction between people. If we get away from that — and lose the human touch — we’re trading something truly fundamental to who we are for the sake of convenience or speed.
Why would a person go to such lengths to create a deepfake? How exactly can malicious actors benefit from making them?
Life can be hard. And on a very high level, people’s first instinct is to survive. So for instance, let’s say you’ve got someone skilled in computer programming and they just lost their job, making ends meet is a priority. Now think about how they will feel if they continue to apply for jobs, get turned down, and run out of savings. They’re really in a bind.
These types of circumstances (where people are under enormous pressure — or possibly just greedy) — will drive people to do whatever it takes to make a quick buck. And if they’ve got the skills to leverage technology to do it, they will. Their short-term gain will be many people’s short-term loss. But I don’t believe people who are by nature deceptive will make it in the long run.
Can you please share with our readers a few ways to identify fake images?
Your ability to do this depends on experience but the first step is using your best judgement. If you see a picture of someone in a café, with lightning striking the table while they’re oblivious, and the sky is red, and pigs are flying, there’s a good chance this is a photoshopped image! Another way to check is to do an attribution verification. In other words… just use Google Lens to see how many variations of an image there are — and what the first published image actually looked like.
Similarly, can you please share with our readers a few ways to identify fake audio?
A lot of phone scams are powered by fake audio. So step 1 — don’t pick up the phone if you don’t recognize the number! When it comes to identifying fake audio, you should listen for accelerated speech. Software tends to operate faster than we do — if rhythm feels off, you’re capable enough to feel it. Also listen for ambient noise. Sometimes there can be a higher-pitched feedback at a lower volume running in the background. Software also has a hard time with the breathy consonants like “t” “f” “d” “m” and “th” among others.
Next, can you please share with our readers a few ways to identify fake text?
The easiest way to check for plagiarized or dupe content is to select a portion of it, cut and paste it into search, and see what else comes up! If you find thousands of landing pages with the same text, it’s likely machine generated. Nowadays, there are about as many AI word detection tools as there are AI writing tools. Finding robo-writing is easy.
Finally, can you please share with our readers a few ways to identify fake video?
Fake videos are getting harder to spot. As we all know, Hollywood special effects leave us dazzled and breathless during a movie. What we see is so life-like. At-home technologies are making the deepfake editor more and more dangerous and there’s more video out there than you think, crafted by such people.
To try and spot fake video, look for bug-eyed people that never blink. Look for patchy skin. Look for ultra-perfect hair. Listen for audio signals like monotone run-on’s and more.
How can the public neutralize the threat posed by deepfakes? Is there anything we can do to push back?
This is a tough one because so much is protected by the first-amendment. However, media outlets such as social platforms and search engines are working hard to banish this type of content.
As a society, we are trusting what we read and see on the internet more and more. The best thing you can do is hold on to your critical thinking. At the end of the day, you are your best filter.
This is the signature question we ask in most of our interviews. Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started” and why? Please share a story or an example for each.
1 . Success is a choice. I kept myself from believing my success was possible for a long time. What you get out of this life is up to you.
2 . Energy is everything. I don’t do anything at ½ tilt. Results suffer. You suffer. The world suffers. You’ve got to be all-in or not in, at all.
3 . Take 7-Breaths. The Samurai never let themselves take more than 7 breaths before they acted upon something. So much is lost thinking in isolation. Think less and do more.
4 . Find your people. The world will kill you if you let it. So whatever good you hope to do, surround yourself with those that do the same. Nurture your garden and watch good things grow.
5 . Eliminate distraction. Make the tough calls. Cut the habit, groups, people, and information out of your life that aren’t serving you. This seems drastic. But it’s the only way you will let good in, and flourish. Dead weight is dead weight. Don’t be Jacob Marley who build their cross one link at the time.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I think in this world of digitization, kindness is key. I see so much damage from the misuse of tools that foster a false sense of belonging and ego. As always, we should leverage technology to bring out the best in us.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We greatly appreciate it and wish you continued success!
Defeating Deepfakes: Elias Christeas of Lighthouse Digital Marketing How We Can Identify… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.