In case you haven’t already been scared silly by the concept, “deep fakes” are a new classification of videos wherein the faces of the subjects of the videos, usually short clips from movies or talk shows with easily recognizable actors, are replaced with a different face. While skilled video and movie special effects editors have been doing this for decades, the effect was usually obvious and it took an expensive special effects studio to produce the result. Now, we have YouTubers producing clips like the below which is amazing and terrifying at the same time:
What this means for you
The amazing part is easy to see (or not see). At some point in the video, I forget that I’m looking a Bill Hader and can only see Arnold’s face, which coupled with his excellent impression of the Governator, makes it look AND sound like Schwarzenegger is sitting with Conan instead of Hader. The terrifying part? This was done by one guy using open source software that doesn’t require an entire special effects studio team to produce.
If that isn’t enough to put a chill in your bones here are a few recent deep fake news stories that should wake you right up:
- The Democratic National Committee produced a deep fake video of their own chair Tom Perez for this year’s Def Con (one of the biggest hacker conventions in the world) to highlight the dangers deep fakes present to the 2020 elections.
- A Chinese app maker just released a free app on the Chinese iOS App store that can use a single picture to replace actors’ faces in a collection of famous movie clips.
- A scammer used a deep fake audio application to impersonate the voice of a UK energy firm CEO which was convincing enough to trick an employee into transferring over $200k to an unauthorized bank account, from where it was quickly transferred and laundered through multiple international accounts.
There’s that elephant again, though at least this time, there are a lot of people talking about it. Technology is again racing ahead of ethics, morality and law, and shows no signs of stopping. Will it take money or elections being stolen before anything is done about it? Have we hit a point where society will always be trailing technology, picking up the broken pieces and taping together integrity as best we can?
Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net