Whose face is it any­way?

First there was fake news, now there are fake videos

Computer Active (UK) - - Front Page -

What are they?

Deep­fakes are like a video version of face-swap pho­tos you can do on your smart­phone, where the face from one per­son is trans­planted on to the body of an­other. They are care­fully blended to cre­ate scar­ily con­vinc­ing fake videos of peo­ple do­ing and say­ing things.

Isn’t that re­ally creepy?

Un­ques­tion­ably. It means if some­one got hold of footage of you, they could cre­ate a fake video of you do­ing any­thing, then pub­lish it on­line for all to see. All they’d need is the right soft­ware, which is now freely avail­able on the in­ter­net.

Doesn’t Hol­ly­wood al­ready use this tech­nol­ogy?

Yes, for many years it has dig­i­tally blended ac­tors’ faces us­ing com­put­er­gen­er­ated ef­fects. But video faceswap­ping tech­nol­ogy has now en­tered the pub­lic do­main via a free tool called Fakeapp, which makes it rel­a­tively sim­ple to stitch videos to­gether. In some cases the tech­nique has been used just for en­ter­tain­ment – mostly in or­der to in­sert the ac­tor Ni­co­las Cage into other peo­ple’s films, if the large num­ber of deep­fake videos fea­tur­ing the ac­tor on Youtube is any­thing to go by. Watch his ‘per­for­mance’ as In­di­ana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark at www.snipca.com/27287 (pic­tured be­low).

So it’s just in­no­cent fun?

Sadly, no. Pre­dictably, face-swap­ping tech was quickly hi­jacked by the darker cor­ners of the in­ter­net, in par­tic­u­lar for in­sert­ing celebri­ties’ faces on to ac­tors in porno­graphic films.

There are also fears it could be used to spread po­lit­i­cal dis­in­for­ma­tion on so­cial me­dia, po­ten­tially in­flu­enc­ing the out­come of elec­tions. As peo­ple be­come wise to fake news sto­ries, will they start to be fooled in­stead by fake videos? Imag­ine the in­flam­ma­tory lies that could be added to the lips of politi­cians.

Are there any ex­am­ples on­line?

Yes, though not all look as re­al­is­tic as the Ni­co­las Cage videos. The Guardian news­pa­per re­cently tried to blend Theresa May with Margaret Thatcher, but the re­sults wouldn’t fool any­one (watch it at www.snipca.com/27288). Other videos are more im­pres­sive, but have been made for comedic pur­poses, such as this dis­turb­ing fu­sion of Don­ald Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton ( www.snipca.com/27290, see screenshot above). How­ever, it doesn’t take a crim­i­nal mas­ter­mind to imag­ine how cer­tain words com­ing out of Vladimir Putin’s mouth could spark may­hem on­line.

How does the tech­nol­ogy work?

The name deep­fake comes partly from the deep-learning tech­niques the tools use. In very ba­sic terms, pow­er­ful ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence maps two faces, look­ing for com­mon fea­tures.

What can some­body do if their face is stolen?

Cur­rently, not a great deal. Part of the prob­lem is that it can be hard to re­move some­thing once it’s been pub­lished on­line. Most re­spon­si­ble sites, in­clud­ing Youtube and Twit­ter, have banned porno­graphic deep­fakes, but that doesn’t stop them from pop­ping up else­where. It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to take le­gal ac­tion against in­di­vid­u­als, es­pe­cially if the video orig­i­nated from overseas. Fur­ther­more, it’s un­clear where the law stands. Are deep­fakes vi­o­la­tions of pri­vacy? Or do they de­fame the in­di­vid­u­als who ap­pear? Un­til more le­gal cer­tainty is es­tab­lished, expect deep­fakes to cause amuse­ment and em­bar­rass­ment in equal mea­sure.

If some­one has footage of you, they could cre­ate a fake video of you do­ing any­thing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.