Deepfake – manipulating video to create a fabricated story.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

How’s this sound for another down side of technology?

Applying cutting edge technology to a video, changing the words said, altering the mouth movement to conform to the fabricated words, changing facial expressions, and thus fabricating a new video telling a story that doesn’t exist.

That is called deepfake.

Currently, the technology is at a level where a human watching a deepfake can tell it is fake. Inconsistencies in facial movement or lighting or pixelation will give away the fabrication. Several articles say the technology is advancing so fast that soon humans will not be able to detect a fake just by watching.

Special computer programs can detect the alterations.

A few articles for more background:

Austin Bay at Strategy Page – 7/30/19 – On Point: Deep Fakes and the New Age of Deception. Simple illustration:  impose your head on Godzilla’s body as the giant monkey smashes the Tokyo skyline, with what sure sounds like your voice complaining about foreign built cars. How about creating a video of a world leader saying something that suggests a change in policy and high hostility to another country, thus generating a diplomatic crisis. Both can be done today.

Here are a couple of examples I thought up on how someone could manipulate the stock market. Imagine a deepfake video of the chairman of the Federal Reserve saying the economy is so strong that interest rates will be hiked half a percent in the next month. Widespread tumult would run in the few hours before the Fed would make clear it was a fake comment and media would get around to reporting the fake.

How about a deepfake video of a company CEO appearing to share with his buddies at lunch that the quarterly earnings release tomorrow will blow out analysts expectations?  The stock price would soar in the minutes or hours before the deepfake was exposed. In the meantime, the hoaxing speculators could make a fortune.

If you recall the bad old days of the cold war, imagine the even higher levels of maskirovka (masking) and dezinformatsiya (disinformation) the Evil Empire could have pulled off with deepfake technology.

Wall Street Journal – 7/27/19 – ‘Deepfakes’ Trigger a Race o Fight Manipulated Photos and Videos.  Article provides good background on the issue.

Article quotes CEO of a company developing deepfake detection technology saying it may be twelve months before the fabricating technology gets to the point that a human won’t be able to detect a fake.

Article describes some of the tech tools in development to identify fakes.

For example, new tech could stamp all videos taken by a phone with time and location data.

Forensic tools are designed to detect inconsistencies in shadows or lighting or odd camera noise that would give away that something was altered.

The Verge – 6/13/19 – Congress grapples with how to regulate deepfakes.  House Intelligence Committee (yeah, yeah, reminds all of us about the old joke on military intelligence being an oxymoron) held hearings to call attention on election security to include the potential of deepfakes impacting an election.

Technology Review – 6/12/19 – Deepfakes have got Congress panicking. This is what it need to do. Ignore the headline – article has so little to say on what Congress ought to do.

Article does give good background on the tech advance. It points out the research money going into deepfake creation far outweighs the money going into deepfake detection.

Article touches on some bills in Congress which don’t have much support.

One researcher suggests it is too early for Congress to take action. We don’t know where the tech is going or how societies want to address the issues. Until then, any legislation might cause harm or be completely off point.

Update just minutes after posting:  Gotta’ laugh…

Immediately next article I saw after posting this article and going to one of my favorite news feeds:  Business Insider, 8/1/19, A vlogger who fans hailed as a ‘cute goddess’ accidentally revealed she was much older than people thought after livestream technical glitch. A tech oopsie showed a video blogger in China was actually 58 years old instead of young twenty-something model. Oops.

I wondered if this was a complete joke, but it looks like beauty filters are a real thing. Such software is even available at the Apple store. For free.

Is you wish to join me in shaking your head, check out:

Apple App Stor Preview:  Video Beauty Filter. Yes, a filter for video.

Cosmopolitan – 6/24/16 – 15 Women Tried Samsung’s Beauty Filters and This Is What Happened. Skin smoothing, light adding, chin narrowing, pupil expanding.


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