A roundtable consisting of Robert Downey Jr, Tom Cruise, George Lucas, Jeff Goldblum, Ewan McGregor – witty, entertaining and what a sight to behold! Only, it was a deepfake. So was the video of Donald Trump taunting Belgium for remaining in the Paris climate agreement and Barack Obama’s public service announcement as posted by Buzzfeed. These great examples of deepfakes are the 21st Century’s answer to Photoshopped images and videos. Synthetic media, deepfakes, use artificial intelligence (AI) — deep learning technology, to replace an existing person in an image or video with someone else.
One reason for the widespread use of deepfake technology in popular celebrities is that these personalities have a large number of pictures available on the internet, allowing AI to train and learn from. However, going ahead, with the number of pictures and data posted by usual internet users on an everyday basis, in addition to the advancement of technology, it is not too far before deepfake is implemented on regular people. Tools like FakeApp and DeepFaceLab have already made the creation of deepfakes accessible to the masses.
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However, there are certain drawbacks attached to the use of deepfakes by the mass. Recently, the Chinese government lost as much as $76 million to criminals who manipulated personal data and fed the facial recognition systems with deep fake videos. With biometric and facial recognition devices being used across the globe, deepfakes have become a rising concern.
Today, Analytics India Magazine looks at the top deepfake videos that shook the world this year. Here’s the list from last year.
Tom Cruise on TikTok
Earlier this year, between February and June, Hollywood actor Tom Cruise popped up on Chinese video-based social networking platform TikTok. The actor was seen showcasing his coin tricks and goofing around in a store — something very unlikely of the actor. Some ten videos later, users realised it was Cruise’s AI-generated doppelganger that looked and sounded just like him. These deepfakes were created by visual artist Chris Umé with the help of actor Miles Fisher, who earlier parodied Cruise in 2008’s Superhero Movie.
Video tech platform Deep Nostalgia created a lot of buzz in the industry for allowing people to use AI to animate their ancient family pictures into short fake videos. The AI-based app allows users to recreate old pictures of their long-gone relatives, eerily making them come alive. A product of Israeli company D-ID, Deep Nostalgia brings still photographs live by applying animations including blinks, smiles, and head tilts to them.
Released in August this year, Warner Bros’ movie Reminiscence starring Hugh Jackman, incorporated deepfake. Fans could turn their still photographs into a short video sequence with Jackman. Its digital studio Oblio partnered with D-ID to use the latter’s Live Portrait product, allowing the studio to create personalised experiences for its fans.
Live Portrait is based on D-ID’s reenactment technology and its facial technology, the Reenactment Suite uses driver video to animate people in photographs to match the head movements, emotions and facial expressions, and even voice. Unlike other AIs, Live Portrait needs just one photograph to create the deepfake video.
Paul McCartney in Find My Way
Young Paul McCartney makes an appearance in the music video Find My Way with the use of deepfake technology. The company behind the clip is Hyperreal Digital which focuses on the creation of hyper-realistic digital avatars. In the video, a de-aged Paul McCartney emerges from the hotel room and is seen dancing in the hallway, moving from one dream-like frame to another. Towards the end of the clip, he pulls his mask off to reveal Beck.
Besides the fun aspect, deepfakes can be beneficial in education, forensics, film production and artistic expression. However, like all other tech advancements, its cons have overshadowed the benefits today. Deepfakes are largely being used to make ‘viral’ fake videos, defaming celebrities and important people worldwide, eroding humankind’s belief in technology. With the amount of power vested in deepfake technology, hopefully, we will soon have guidelines concerning morals, rights and privacy when it comes to its usage.