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Hackernoon logoWill Deepfakes Be Part of Our Lives? by@paragism

Will Deepfakes Be Part of Our Lives?

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I was receiving a particular forwarded meme of a famous Hollywood actor over WhatsApp from so many of my contacts since last a few days. This one might have gone viral. It superimposes the actor’s face on the body of Superhero Hulk and makes him do some nasty stuffs. Oh! Quite ridiculous but people are liking it. The video was made with extreme perfection and the finishing touch was superb. I came to know later on that it was made by an internet user only.

Was it deepfake? I came to know about deepfake a few years back while I was doing some research to write an article on AI. 

Deepfake is a technique to replace an image or video of a person with another. 

We keep on seeing numerous memes, photoshopped images nowadays. Deepfake is of a different level. Deepfake generates visual content with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Deepfake is basically Deeplearning. What the hell! So many jargons here.

Deeplearning uses an artificial neural network basically. The network is made to learn and improvise learning. The network is often supervised, semi-supervised or unsupervised. Ultimately it aims for perfection in learning and generating a predictive output. 

For Deepfake, the output is almost ‘perfect fake’.

Monalisa deepfake - A Samsung lab from Russia showed in 2019 that it is possible to fake video from a single photo

Deepfake started as an AI experiment and caught public attention through swapped celebrity faces in porn in early 2017. A reddit user named ‘Deepfake’ bombarded internet in 2017 with fake celebrity porn videos. He made those using opensource machine learning tools.

The superimpose thing was not new. But the perfection and simplicity of the process was striking. Since then, Deepfaking gained a lot of popularity. In July’17, University of Washington researchers developed a deepfaking algorithm and turned audio clips into a realistic, lip-synced video of the then US president Obama. It became viral instantly.

Yes, deepfaking started journey from the academician’s laboratory but became accessible to the end user after that.

Vitalik Buterin sings Pink Floyd’s “Money” in a deepfake video made by Alethea AI (If the video doesn't play, click here to watch)

Deepfakes have become extremely photorealistic. AI can generate any kind of facial expression. DeepNude was an app, launched by an anonymous developer. It was able to unclothe a clothed woman and create porn video from that. The controversial app was taken down after launch in 2019. Not only a celebrity but also a common guy can become victim of deepfaking. How does it sound?

CZ Binance as Jet Lee in a deepfake video by Althea AI

Technology is both boon and bane. Deepfaking can be disastrous for an individual. It can play pivotal role in international diplomacy also. Just imagine the impact of a deepfaking video which depicts Chinese President Xi Jinping declaring that COVID19 was manufactured in the Chinese laboratory. Before the actual reality comes out, the video will be forwarded million times in social media and will have ripple effects.

The technology is advancing at a rapid rate and it is often difficult to understand the difference between the original and a Deepfake. What’s the way out?
Alethea AI, the viral deepfake maker, is building AI tools to identify deepfakes. They want to record deepflakes in the blockchain and make it immutable. AI will be used to dig data from blockchain and provide accurate results about deepfaking query. It is interesting. 

We need AI to fight with AI! A traditional database can be tampered any time. Only a blockchain can provide the necessary data set for training the AI algorithm. 

Amber Video is one company which is fighting deepfakes with its advanced media forensics platform. Their platform runs on Ethereum blockchain. They do the video fingerprinting at source. That means, they cryptographically hash a video at source before logging on the blockchain to detect whether the video was tampered or not.

Technology is supposed to evolve. It is unjustified and impossible to ban a technology. Once upon a time, Cuban president Fidel Castro banned mobile phone in Cuba due to the suspicion that the technology would be used by US for surveillance. They had to lift the ban ultimately in 2008. We can’t go backward. We need to embrace deepfaking.

Deepfaking will create a new entertainment field. It is already being used in some digital games. Imagine creating your perfect avatar with accurate expressions and taking part in a multi-player combat game with VR. It can be so real! Synthetic contents will enter into your life to entertain you in different manners very soon. But yes, we need to keep a good check to stop misuse. Deepfakes are here to stay. Accept that!

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