Deepfake Videos and Potential Consequences

There is a new trend of videos online that are getting the attention of technology companies and the US government. Deepfake is the name associated with a form of video manipulation where it appears someone is doing or saying something they never actually did or said. The technology is still new, but is evolving quickly.

Hollywood has been able to manipulate video for a long time, think about Forrest Gump shaking hands with JFK in 1994. The difference is this new technology automates the work that used to take thousands of hours for a design team to manipulate frame by frame. This new software learns the face of a person and can superimpose it onto another body while the person is talking or moving. The videos being produced right now still look like they have been manipulated, but the technology is improving quickly. As the technology advances, the software needs less and less reference imagery to learn the face of the person being superimposed.

Google created a database of 3,000 deepfake videos and released them to companies developing software to detect fake videos. There is no detection software on the market at this time. The Pentagon is also doing research to try to stay ahead of this trend. They are creating deepfake videos at the University of Colorado that they can later use to develop technology to detect fakes. There are some telltale signs of a fake video that have not yet been solved. In the fake videos it is common to see pixelating or artifacting where the video has been manipulated. The people in the fake videos do not blink, because the software has not yet been told to make people blink. The biggest red flag is the audio does not match up or sound like the person. This software only deals with the imagery of the video, so in many of them it’s obvious that the audio is not right.

It is widely believed that these issues will be worked out, and criminals will be able to use this format convincingly in the near future. The fear is a convincing video of a politician or world leader could be created to say or do something that other world leaders would react to. The upcoming 2020 US election is also on the top of everyone’s mind as this technology advances quickly.

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Posted by Charles Wright