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Philosophy/Politics/Media: Democracy And Deepfakes – University Tutorial With Dr Barney Walker From University of Warwick

May 23 @ 15:35 - 16:20

In this live interactive tutorial, we will be joined by Dr Barney Walker, Teaching Fellow and acting Admissions Tutor for the Philosophy Department at University of Warwick, who will explore Democracy and Deepfakes. This will be a very accessible and thought provoking session and we welcome students from a range of disciplines including Philosophy, Media, Politics, Sociology and Religious Studies, for example.

The full context/introduction to this live and interactive discussion is provided by the university in a Headliner recorded resource (see below) which offers insights into the key academic research and debate related to this fascinating topic. This recording can be watched as a class activity or independently in preparation for the discussion.

Deepfakes are fabricated recordings in which an adaptable model of the face of a famous person is digitally inserted over the face of someone else. Using this technology, you can make a video of a celebrity saying or doing whatever you like. To get a sense of the possibilities, see this deepfake video of Tom Cruise

In this Philosophy Headliner and tutorial we will be exploring the implications of deepfakes for democracy. Reliable information is crucial for democracy—without it, it is impossible for citizens to make informed decisions. But in a world where technology has made it easy to fake footage of a politician saying or doing anything at all, how can voters trust the images they see on their screens? 

In a recent article (linked below), Regina Rini has argued that deepfakes pose a serious threat ‘to our collective democratic processes of information-sharing and debate’ (p. 1). In the Headliner I explain Rini’s argument, which is based on the idea that recordings provide an ‘epistemic backstop’, and identify some critical issues about it. In the online tutorial we will further discuss Rini’s argument and the questions it raises—questions about democracy, its challenges, and our reasons for believing what others tell us. 


Regina Rini, ‘Deepfakes and the Epistemic Backstop’

‘It’s Getting Harder to Spot a Deep Fake Video’ (YouTube)


The session aims to deepen students’ understanding of the topic whilst enabling them to access and experience a live online university tutorial.

The Headliner recording is below.


Lecturer Profile (Please Click): Dr Barney Walker


Our events are designed so that a group of students can take part from a classroom, or students and teachers can take part as individuals, either from school or from home. This means that sessions will continue irrespective of possible school closures.

As a live, participative event, this session will not be recorded but access to the Headliner recording will continue to be accessible.


Suitable for: Key Stage 5, and equivalent, students studying or with an interest in studying Philosophy and related subjects such as Media, Politics, Sociology and Religious Studies. Teachers and members of school staff, as always, are welcome too and participants can join as individuals from school/college or home, or as a group from school/college.

Preparation/Pre-Reading: Students are asked to watch the Headliner recording and consider some of the key issues and questions raised in it. Accessing the links in the session outline above is also helpful but not essential.

The IT Setup: The event will be run on Bluejeans and participants will be able to join using laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. If you are joining as a school group, we recommend connecting with one device and projecting on to a whiteboard. You will be able to interact with the university via a microphone and/or typed comments and questions. Full details will be sent to those who have registered (see below) prior to the event.

Booking a Place: This is free for schools and colleges. If you would like to take part in this event, please register your interest using the link to the registration form below: