Talk to the spirits using just your smartphone4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Here is something that is both exciting and spooky enough to make you want to run out of your house, screaming for help. It’s deepfake technology, and it has come to your smartphones.
Wait, what is deepfake?
Deepfake technology is a form of artificial intelligence that uses computers to study faces and their behaviours. Then, this technology makes videos of them doing and saying things that they never did. Deepfakes have been around for a while now, and they’ve been used to make fake videos of everyone from Tom Cruize to Barack Obama. They can mimic both the voice and all of the facial muscle movements of the person that is being “deepfaked”! Watch this video to see just how mind-blowing it can be:
So, why is this exciting?
Well, an Israeli company called MyHeritage has brought deepfakes to your smartphones. You can now use their technology, DeepNostalgia, a version of this futuristic machine ability to animate old photos. People have brought back to life still pictures of people they loved and have lost. They have been ever so grateful to get a chance to see their loved ones smile at them again. However, better and more accurate deepfake technology has been used to do some pretty amazing things.
Last year, rapper and fashion designer Kanye West used this technology on a 3D hologram to make a clip for his wife. The clip featured his wife, Kim’s, late father wishing her for her birthday. It was great! She cried tears of joy, and Kanye even managed to get his wife’s father to praise him.
Here is another deepfaked video of the actor Tom Cruize. The man who created it tries to show you how it is done:
The video of Tom Cruize that you saw above was created over two months by a man that looks similar to him. It went viral and brought joy to many on TikTok. He was open about what he had done and showcased the power of the technology rather than pretending to be Tom Cruize.
Hollywood and other movie industries can also use deepfakes to make their work both cheaper and faster! The uses go on…
It all sounds lovely. Does it not?
In fact, you can use it too. Have an old photo of your mom? Great, you can make a deepfake of her allowing you to eat whatever you want forever. Want to go out with your friends? Just create a video getting permission. All you need is a picture and a voice sample. If she denies you permission, just show her a video with her own words and face. Simple.
But, here’s the catch. What if your mother does the same thing? What if she takes your photo and animates it to make you say you hate ice-cream, love studying all day, abhor talking to your friends, and would like to be kept at home to learn from your textbooks, all the time every day. After all, she has a smartphone and the same technology.
Things don’t seem so great anymore, do they?
This is precisely the problem with this dystopian and futuristic technology. On the one hand, it is gobsmackingly fascinating. It really is a marvel, but on the other hand, its use raises a lot of questions. Is it fair to make a living person your puppet? What if you show a fake video as evidence in court? People could misuse simulated videos of politicians for their own gain. What will happen if we can simply make people say and do what we want. Will this technology further alienate us from each other?