3 min read

Deepfakes are becoming scaringly and indistinguishably real. A YouTube clip of Bill Hader in conversation with David Letterman on his late-night show in 2008 is going viral where Hader’s face subtly shifts to Cruise’s as Hader does his impression. This viral Deepfake clip has been viewed over 3 million times and is uploaded by Ctrl Shift Face (a Slovakian citizen who goes by the name of Tom), who has created other entertaining videos using Deepfake technology. For the unaware, Deepfake uses Artificial intelligence and deep neural networks to alter audio or video to pass it off as true or original content.

Deepfakes are problematic as they make it hard to differentiate between fake and real videos or images. This gives people the liberty to use deepfakes for promoting harassment and illegal activities. The most common use of deepfakes is found in revenge porn, political abuse, and fake celebrities videos as this one.

The top comments on the video clip express dangers of realistic AI manipulation.

“The fade between faces is absolutely unnoticeable and it’s flipping creepy. Nice job!”

“I’m always amazed with new technology, but this is scary.”

“Ok, so video evidence in a court of law just lost all credibility”

Deepfakes can also be used as a weapon of misinformation since they can be used to maliciously hoax governments, populations and cause internal conflict.

Gavin Sheridan, CEO of Vizlegal also tweeted the clip, “Imagine when this is all properly weaponized on top of already fractured and extreme online ecosystems and people stop believing their eyes and ears.”

He also talked about future impact. “True videos will be called fake videos, fake videos will be called true videos. People steered towards calling news outlets “fake”, will stop believing their own eyes. People who want to believe their own version of reality will have all the videos they need to support it,” he tweeted.

He also tweeted whether we would require A-list movie actors at all in the future, and could choose which actor will portray what role. His tweet reads, “Will we need A-list actors in the future when we could just superimpose their faces onto the faces of other actors? Would we know the difference?  And could we not choose at the start of a movie which actors we want to play which roles?”

The past year has seen accelerated growth in the use of deepfakes. In June, a fake video of Mark Zuckerberg was posted on Instagram, under the username, bill_posters_uk. In the video, Zuckerberg appears to give a threatening speech about the power of Facebook. Facebook had received strong criticism for promoting fake videos on its platform when in May, the company had refused to remove a doctored video of senior politician Nancy Pelosi. Samsung researchers also released a deepfake that could animate faces with just your voice and a picture using temporal GANs.

Post this, the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing to examine the public risks posed by “deepfake” videos.

Tom, the creator of the viral video told The Guardian that he doesn’t see deepfake videos as the end of the world and hopes his deepfakes will raise public awareness of the technology’s potential for misuse. “It’s an arms race; someone is creating deepfakes, someone else is working on other technologies that can detect deepfakes. I don’t really see it as the end of the world like most people do. People need to learn to be more critical. The general public are aware that photos could be Photoshopped, but they have no idea that this could be done with video.”

Ctrl Shift Face is also on Patreon offering access to bonus materials, behind the scenes footage, deleted scenes, early access to videos for those who provide him monetary support.

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Content Marketing Editor at Packt Hub. I blog about new and upcoming tech trends ranging from Data science, Web development, Programming, Cloud & Networking, IoT, Security and Game development.