The deepfake, from the cinema to the general public.
In recent years, Hollywood has famously transposed real or fictional faces onto other actors. For example, when Peter Cushing resurrects in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
But, for some time now, accessible software tools such as FakeApp and DeepFaceLab have made deepfake technology available to everyone.
Vlodomir Zelensky’s deepfake, a political weapon
Two weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine, a deepfake of Vlodomir Zelensky surfaced on social media. The Ukrainian President announces the surrender of Ukraine. This is the first time that a deepfake has served as a demobilization weapon for armed forces. And so, from a first in the history of deepfakes, synthetic media, or even, synth media.
If one observes the video well, it is possible to realize the deception. Indeed, the president’s body is static, the neck is too large, and the behavior of the body seems too rigid to be true. Very quickly, the real Vlodomir Zelensky posted a video to deny the comments made. But, even if this video did not achieve its objective, it portends future applications in other types of conflicts.
Indeed, the most dangerous use of deepfake technology could be political in nature. For example, one can imagine a deepfake video appearing to show a world leader declaring war on a foreign nation.
The revelations of the fake Mark Zuckerberg
“Whoever controls the data controls the future”
A video intervention of a few seconds began circulating on Instagram on June 7, 2019. It features Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, making disturbing comments about the personal data of users. Concretely, the founder brags about how the platform “owns” its users.
In reality, the video is a fake created from scratch by two artists, working in collaboration with several communication agencies Americans specialized in audio-video manipulation. The end result was made using Israeli startup Canny AI’s video dialogue replacement VDR software.
The video emerged shortly after Facebook and Instagram announced they were refusing to ban deepfakes.
Tom Cruise in action
In early March 2021, a series of videos went viral on TikTok and Twitter claiming to show famous actor Tom Cruise. Indeed, on the platform, there is an account entirely devoted to the deepfakes of the actor. They are also among the most convincing synthetic media to date.
The videos feature Tom Cruise, from playing golf to demonstrating a magic trick to washing his hands. In fact, these videos were created by VFX artist Chris Ume in an attempt to raise awareness about the advanced nature of modern deepfake technology. Clearly, the objective of these productions was to show what could be achieved with the right knowledge and the right software. And this, even by a person working alone at home.
Politicians and celebrities are often the subjects of deepfakes. Public figures are perfect sources for deepfaking. In short, their profiles, usually public, provide a large amount of source material from which an AI can base its learning.
For example, computer scientists at the University of Washington used an artificial intelligence neural network to model the shape of Obama’s mouth and synchronize it with an audio input.
“President Trump is nothing but dark shit. You see, I would never say that kind of stuff in a public speech, but someone else yes, someone like Jordan Peele”, can be heard in another deepfake video of ex-president Barack Obama published in 2018. It is the creation of American comedian and director Jordan Peele. In all, it counts 7 million views.
The 2020 US Elections
In September 2020, in the run-up to the US presidential election, the non-partisan lobby group RepresentUs ran a series of deepfake ads.
The videos featured fake versions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivering the same message. Clearly, neither needed to interfere in the US election, “because America would ruin its democracy by itself”.
Already in February of the same year, Manoj Tiwari, an Indian politician, had used deepfakes in a campaign video to pretend that he spoke Haryanvi. it is a Hindi dialect spoken by its target voters.
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5 deepfakes that have marked history – Geeko
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