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The Liar's Dividend: Preserving Trust in an Al-Fueled World

Most of us have now experienced AI-created fake videos or audio recordings that are so realistic, it's hard to tell that they aren’t real. These are known as deep fakes. But what if someone claims that a real video or audio recording is a deep fake, when it's actually real? This is called the liar's dividend, and it's an escalating problem.

Art created in partnership between Dr. Lisa and MSFT Designer.

Leaders of organizations hold a critical responsibility when it comes to the growing issue of the liar's dividend. With AI fueling the market, the distinction between authentic and manipulated content is increasingly blurred. It's imperative that we understand the serious consequences of the liar's dividend and take proactive steps to prevent its abuse within our organizations.

What is the Liar's Dividend?

Imagine you're watching a game of soccer, and a player blatantly fouls another player. The referee doesn't see it, and when confronted, the player claims it never happened. This false claim causes doubt, even though the foul was real.

Similarly, the liar's dividend is created when someone falsely claims that a real piece of content is a deep fake. This phenomenon of benefiting from the inability to tell truth from lies is escalating. As the public becomes more aware of deepfakes and misinformation, liars gain more credibility when claiming real evidence is fake. Sadly, every time a piece of misinformation is debunked, this problem worsens. This tactic is being used to deceive people, avoid accountability, protect profits, and secure reputations.

Examples and Consequences

Why do people lie? Because they tangibly benefit from doing so! With the current lack of reliable tools to discern real from fake content, the temptations to behave badly are strong.

Here are some examples of the liar's dividend in action:

  • A company claims that a video showing their product's flaws is a deep fake, when it's actually real. By doing so, they can avoid recalling the product, maintain their reputation, and continue to sell the product to unsuspecting customers.

  • A politician claims that a recording of them saying something controversial is a deep fake, when it's actually genuine. By doing so, they can avoid accountability for their words, maintain their political power, and continue to deceive their constituents.

  • A hospital claims that a video showing a medical mistake is a deep fake, when it's actually real. By doing so, they can avoid lawsuits, maintain their reputation, and continue to attract patients.

  • A financial institution claims that a recording of a confidential meeting is a deep fake, when it's actually genuine. By doing so, they can avoid regulatory scrutiny, maintain their reputation, and continue to engage in questionable business practices.

  • A university claims that a video showing a professor's misconduct is a deep fake, when it's actually real. By doing so, they can avoid accountability for the professor's actions, maintain their reputation, and continue to attract students and funding.

The consequences of the liar's dividend are serious. It leads to:

  • Erosion of trust in institutions and the media: When organizations and public figures can dismiss genuine content as fake, it undermines public trust in these entities.

  • Manipulation of public opinion: False claims of deep fakes can manipulate how people perceive reality, influencing public sentiment and decisions. This creates societal division between groups who believe / disbelieve the lies.

  • Undermining of accountability: Those in power can evade consequences by claiming real evidence is fake, eroding the principle of accountability. This loss of accountability leads to unchecked power and unethical behavior, ultimately damaging the integrity of institutions and organizations.

  • Protection of reputations at the expense of truth: This tactic allows individuals and organizations to maintain their image while deceiving the public. In the long term, this leads to widespread skepticism, decreased consumer confidence, and a general decline in the credibility of all information, making it harder for the public to discern what is real and what is not.

  • Financial losses: Businesses that are perceived to be dishonest often face boycotts, legal action, and loss of consumer trust, leading to significant financial repercussions.

  • Operational disruptions: Companies may need to invest heavily and unexpectedly in crisis management and verification processes, diverting resources from core business activities.

  • Increased scrutiny and regulation: Persistent use of the liar's dividend likely leads to stricter regulations and oversight, increasing operational burdens for businesses.

Blog summarized by Dr. Lisa in partnership with Mapify (AI).

Calls to Action

As leaders, we each have a critical role to play in preventing the liar's dividend and promoting a culture of transparency and accountability. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Develop a deep fake policy: Establish a clear policy for handling deep fakes and misinformation within your organization, including protocols for verification, reporting, and response. Your policy should include an unequivocal commitment to not benefiting from the liar's dividend. This means that your organization will not use deep fakes or misinformation to deceive or manipulate others and will not claim that real content is fake in order to avoid accountability.

  2. Implement a robust verification process: Establish a multi-layered verification process that involves human review, metadata analysis, source verification, and cross-checking to ensure the authenticity of content.

  3. Educate and raise awareness: Educate employees and stakeholders about the risks of deep fakes and misinformation and promote a culture of critical thinking and skepticism.

  4. Conduct regular risk assessments: Regularly assess the risks associated with deep fakes and misinformation and develop strategies to mitigate those risks.

  5. Establish a crisis management plan: Develop a crisis management plan that outlines the steps your organization will take in the event of a deep fake or misinformation incident.

  6. Collaborate with industry peers: Collaborate with industry peers and partners to share best practices and develop industry-wide standards for handling deep fakes and misinformation.

  7. Advocate for policy change: Advocate for policy changes that promote transparency and accountability in the creation and dissemination of content.

  8. Support research and development (R&D): Since reliable deep fake detection tools don’t yet exist, support research and development for detection and prevention, and explore opportunities for collaboration and partnership.

By taking these steps, you can help prevent the liar's dividend and promote a culture of transparency and accountability within your organization.


The liar's dividend poses a grave threat to the integrity of businesses, institutions, and society as a whole. As leaders, you have a responsibility to your stakeholders, your industry, and the public to address this issue head-on. By implementing robust verification processes, educating your teams, collaborating with peers, advocating for policy changes, and investing in R&D, you can help turn the tide against the liar's dividend. Your actions today will not only protect your organization but will also contribute to the restoration of trust and accountability across our society.

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