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The 2021 Innovations Dialogue: Deepfakes, Trust and International Security


The 2021 Innovations Dialogue: Deepfakes, Trust and International Security

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) welcomes you to the 2021 Innovations Dialogue: Deepfakes, Trust and International Security. This one-day convening will explore the importance of trust for international security and stability and shed light on how the growing deepfake phenomenon could undermine this trust. 

The world today is suffering from a “trust deficit disorder,” as noted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, wherein trust among states and in multilateral processes has weakened. Trust is a central pillar of international security and stability. It sets the foundation for cooperation, institution-building and multilateralism, and rests on the ability of actors to learn, perceive, and believe others’ interests, positions and actions through means of communication. In a world where digital forms of communication are ubiquitous, the emergence of AI-enabled digital visual and textual media fabrication and manipulation technology known as deepfakes could further subvert trust and challenge its preconditions at an individual, systemic and societal level, thereby endangering international security and stability. 

With the participation of stakeholders from government, academia, and industry, the Dialogue will illuminate how algorithmically generated synthetic visual and textual media is created and disseminated, and examine how it could erode trust and present novel risks for international security and stability. The discussions will also explore the key governance issues concerning deepfakes and their attendant technological countermeasures, and consider whether new multilateral and multi-stakeholder tools are needed to fill the governance gaps that deepfakes have engendered. 

For any questions, contact Alisha Anand at


25 August 09:00-17:30 CEST, Hybrid format: Geneva (venue TBC) and online

Please specify if you will be attending in person or if you will be connecting remotely. The link to access the broadcast of ID2021 will be provided by email to registered participants one day prior to the event.


UNIDIR encourages the participation of representatives and experts working on or interested in issues pertaining to advancement in digital technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, and their implications for international peace and security.


0900-0910: Welcome and Opening Remarks

0910-0940: Keynote Address – Trust and International Security in the Era of Deepfakes 
The scene-setting keynote address will explore the importance of trust for international security and stability and shed light on the extent to which the growing deepfake phenomenon could undermine this trust.

Nina Schick, Director, Tamang Ventures 

0940-1115: Unpacking Deepfakes – Creation and Dissemination of Deepfakes 
This panel will provide a technical overview of how deepfake video, audio, image and text are generated. and disseminated. The key questions it will seek to address include what are the underlying technologies of deepfakes? How are deepfakes disseminated, particularly on social media and communication platforms?  Which actors currently have the means to create and disseminate them? And what types of deepfakes currently exist and what is on the horizon?

Moderated by Giacomo Persi Paoli, Programme Lead, Security and Technology, UNIDIR 
Hao Li, CEO and Co-Founder, Pinscreen and Distinguished Fellow, University of California, Berkeley
Katerina Sedova, Research Fellow, Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Georgetown University 
Ashish Jaiman, Director, Technology Operations, Microsoft

1115-1130: Break

1130-1300: Understanding the Implications for International Security and Stability 
This panel will examine the uses of deepfakes and the extent to which they could erode trust and present novel risks for international security and stability. The key questions it will seek to address include how could deepfakes be used? What is the potential geopolitical and societal impact of deepfakes on the stability, integrity and trustworthiness of institutions, the information ecosystem and society more broadly? What are the existing risks to international security and stability, and what future risks may arise?

Moderated by Kerstin Vignard, Non-resident Senior Fellow, UNIDIR 
Anita Hazenberg, Director, Innovation Directorate, INTERPOL
Alexi Drew, Senior Analyst, RAND Europe 
Valeria Solis, Director for Drugs and Cybersecurity, Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Mexico 
Moliehi Makumane, Senior Policy Advisor & South Africa Delegate to the UN Open Ended Working Group and Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of ICTs in the Context of International Security 
Saiffudin Ahmed, Assistant Professor, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore 
Petr Topychkanov, Senior Researcher, SIPRI

1300-1400: Lunch Break

1400-1500: Managing the Deepfake Phenomenon – Counter-Deepfake Technologies
This panel will give an overview of the technological countermeasures being developed and reflect on their effectiveness to combat the risks posed by the malicious uses of deepfakes, particularly in light of the pace at which deepfake technology is advancing. 

Moderated by Arthur Michel Holland, Associate Researcher, Security and Technology, UNIDIR
Laura Ellis, Head of Technology Forecasting, BBC
Giorgio Patrini, Cofounder and CEO, Sensity

1500-1610: Managing the Deepfake Phenomenon – Governance Issues and Responses 
This panel will explore the key governance issues concerning deepfakes and discuss what governance measures are needed to respond to them. The key questions this panel will seek to address include what governance challenges do deepfakes present? What industry-led, national and regional governance responses against deepfakes are emerging? How can we create synergies between the various bottom up and top down governance measures? What new, if any, multilateral and multi-stakeholder tools are needed to fill governance gaps?

Moderator (TBC) 
Marie-Valentine Florin, Executive Director, International Risk Governance Center, EPFL
Juha Heikkila, Adviser for Artificial Intelligence, Directorate for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry, European Commission (TBC)
Odhran McCarthy, Programme Officer, Centre for AI and Robotics, UNICRI 
Yoel Roth, Head of Site Integrity, Twitter 
*More speakers to be announced

1610-1620: Break

1620-1720: Preserving and Fostering Digital Trust: The Way Forward 
In the era of digital transformation, digital technologies now underpin core societal functions. Our ability to unlock the true potential of digital technologies and leverage their transformative benefits for society, economy and the environment is dependent on preservation of trust and the stability of the digital ecosystem. And as international security and stability are increasingly dependent on digital security and stability, effective concrete multilateral and multi-stakeholder actions are needed to mitigate the effects of irresponsible and malicious uses of digital technologies and prevent the erosion of trust and stability.

Through an open discussion, this panel will reflect on what digital trust entails. What initiatives can be taken by the international community to build digital trust and mitigate the potential destabilizing effects of advances in digital technologies? What are the challenges to preserving and fostering digital trust and how can they be overcome? What role can the UN play in promoting trust and ensuring the security and stability of the digital ecosystem? 

Moderated by Robin Geiss, Director, UNIDIR
Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
Tom Burt, Corporate Vice-President for Customer Security and Trust, Microsoft
Amandeep Singh Gill, Director, International Digital Health & AI Research Collaborative (I-DAIR), Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva
Nina Schick, Director, Tamang Ventures

1720-1730: Closing Remarks

Disclaimer: The speakers and programme are subject to change


25 August 2021


Hybrid format: Geneva (venue TBC) and online