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  • Writer's picturecarolineswiftholden

Deepfakes - The Future of Misinformation

If you thought “Fake News” was bad, get ready for something that is going to make deciphering online media much much worse.

Deepfakes, the ability to replace the face or body of any individual in any video, is quickly advancing and becoming far too real for comfort. Although there are several exciting ways that deepfakes can be used for good (ex. bring Peter Cushing back to life in Rogue One) but the potential for abuse is astronomical and the resources for identifying deepfakes are still quite limited. With the 2020 election looming, many experts are concerned that these videos may mislead voters.

Want to see deepfakes in action? Check out this video that the New York Times published a few months ago below!

Tech giants are starting to fight back. A few months ago, Google released 3000 deepfake videos in the hope that researchers can use the footage to help detect deepfakes. Just this week, another Alphabet subsidiary Jigsaw just released a tool, called Assembler, to help people identify footage that’s been tampered with. Microsoft, and schools like MIT, UC Berkeley, and the non profit Partnership on AI are all working on Facebook’s Deepfake Detection Challenge, a competition to incentivize AI researchers to build systems to detect manipulated videos.

Deepfakes are quickly becoming faster, cheaper, and easier to make (even Tik Tok has built its own deepfake maker!) and although the big tech power players are jumping in to help identify the manipulated footage, AI developers have a big head start. Hao Li, a deepfake pioneer, recently told CNBC that “perfectly real” manipulated photos and videos will be discoverable by everyday people in “a half year to a year.”

How do we know what we’re seeing is real? First thing’s first is awareness. Right now, most deepfakes are recognizable to the human eye though some are becoming scarily realistic. Experts have all sorts of different tips, whether it’s checking to see if the person in your video is blinking frequently enough, to slowing videos down to check if there’s any blurring, double eyebrows, or a change of skin tone near the face.

Regardless, digital literacy is going to be more important than ever, and audiences need to be aware that now it’s not just photos, text, and audio that can be manipulated.

Want to avoid thinking about the potentially dangerous uses of deepfakes and just focus on the fun? Check out my top five favorite deepfake videos below!

1. Bill Hader's incredibly impressive Impressions!

2. Jennifer Lawrence Talks Desperate Housewives

3. Dali Lives!

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