The politics of past and future: synthetic media, showing, and telling

Megan Hyska*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Generative artificial intelligence has given us synthetic media that are increasingly easy to create and increasingly hard to distinguish from photographs and videos. Whereas an existing literature has been concerned with how these new media might make a difference for would-be knowers—the viewers of photographs and videos—I advance a thesis about how they will make a difference for would-be communicators—those who embed photos and videos in their speech acts. I claim that the presence of these media in our information environment reduces our ability to show one another things, even as it may increase our resources for telling. And I argue that this has consequences beyond the disruption of knowledge acquisition; showing is a way that we preserve relational equality through superficial asymmetries in political communication, and thereby express respect for our audiences. If synthetic media reduce our options for showing, they then interfere in the way that we manage our relationships in the context of collective political action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhilosophical Studies
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Communication
  • Deepfakes
  • Politics
  • Synthetic media
  • Testimony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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