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The reality of deep fake is troubling

"When nothing goes right, go left."
The reality of deep fake is troubling Posted on November 13, 2019
"When nothing goes right, go left."

“Deepfakes (a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”) are media that take a person in an existing image or video and replace them with someone else’s likeness using artificial neural networks.” – Wikipedia.

In brief layman’s (or laywoman’s) terms, it means being able to replace one person’s face and mannerisms (including voice) in a picture or video with that of another, and you would not be able to tell which is the real one.

Technology has made this so easy to do that it is truly scary. You could do this to just about anyone, from celebrities to your own uncle. (Not quite sure if it can be done cross-species yet, though. So for the moment, you’re not going to look like your cat – yet.)

If you still have no idea what deepfake is, have a look at this “coin toss” clip (below) from the movie, No Country For Old Men, starring Javier Bardiem.

Bardem

The clip is then given the deepfake treatment, or effect, or imposition, such that Bardem adopts the likeness of first, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and then Leonardo DiCaprio, and finally Willem Dafoe. See if you can tell.

Here is the original clip from the movie, starring Bardem:

This one with Arnold:
This one with DiCaprio:
This one with Dafoe:
The special effects of the video are by Ctrl Shift Face, a Youtube channel which has been putting out these experimental clips. The channel has also made other noteworthy deepfakes, including Jim Carrey in Jack Nicholson’s role in The Shining, and Sylvestor Stallone in Arnold’s role in The Terminator.

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And it’s all very real.

“So who exactly is this prankster mogul who can put some of the world’s biggest actors into movies they never actually appeared in with a few clicks of the mouse?” asked Digital Trends in July, in an interview with the person behind the videos.

“He’s not telling. ‘I don’t want to share my real name really,’ Ctrl Shift Face’s creator explained. ‘It’s not important, I think. I let my work speak for itself.’ He did mention a few personal details, such as his age (31), his place of birth (Slovakia, although he no longer lives there), and the fact that his job involves computer graphics on some level.”

Incidentally, one of the more first and more famous deepfake videos is that of former US President, Barack Obama, as this Buzzfeed video reported:

The capability to create such videos is (or will be) easily available to anyone and everyone – and it is scary, as it throws up all sorts of legal issues, such as copyright, harassment, privacy, and so on. Deepfake can also be used in criminal ways (which we shall not delve further into so we don’t give you any funny ideas).

Fake news and online falsehoods are already a menace, a dangerous threat to social and political stability, and we need to be vigilant about what we see, read and hear online. Unfortunately, it looks like we will have to up our vigilance by a few notches, once deepfake videos become ubiquitous.

To know about the person behind it, and his other clips, click here.

"When nothing goes right, go left."