What is this technology, and why are countries as well as companies trying their best to control the spread of misinformation using this technology?
China & DeepFake
Last Thursday, China’s cyberspace administrator said that it and the public security ministry summoned 11 domestic technology companies including Alibaba Group, Tencent and ByteDance. This meeting was summoned to talk about “security assessments” and potential problems with deepfakes and audio social apps.
The word deepfake comes from combining the terms “deep learning” and “fake” and it is a form of artificial intelligence. In layman terms, deepfake technology can create convincing but entire fictional photos and falsified videos by means of deep learning. Deep learning algorithms are algorithms that teach themselves how to solve problems when given large sets of data. These algorithms are used to swap faces in video and digital content to make realistic-looking fake media.
You might say that this sounds like the expensive Computer-generated Imagery (CGI) used by Hollywood. But unlike CGI, deepfake technology is inexpensive and available to be downloaded online, allowing anyone with a computer and an internet connection and a basic understanding of deep-learning algorithms to create falsified videos.
We are pretty sure most of you might have seen some of these videos and didn’t realize they were fake. Did you come across a video where Jon Snow was apologizing for the disappointing ending to Game of Thrones? Well, that was a fake video. What about the video where Mark Zuckerberg was bragging about having “total control of billions of people’s stolen data”? That was fake as well.
The problem is, when you look at these videos, it would be extremely hard for you to believe that these are fake and that is the biggest problem with deepfakes. They look so real to the point you start thinking that there is no way that these could be fictitious.
According to the Deeptrace report, 96% of deepfake videos online were pornographic as of September 2019. As for the creators, if you take a look at the top 30 on one site discloses deepfakers all over the world, including in the U.S, Canada, Guatemala and India.
In a 2020 report by The Brookings Institution, the dangers posed by deepfake, include “distorting democratic discourse; manipulating elections; eroding trust in institutions; weakening journalism; exacerbating social divisions; undermining public safety; and inflicting hard-to-repair damage on the reputation of prominent individuals, including elected officials and candidates for office.”
Deepfakes could be dangerous and while AI can be used to make deepfakes, AI can also be used to detect them. Large companies like Facebook and Microsoft said that they will collaborate with top universities across the U.S to detect and remove deepfake videos, reported Reuters.
So, how can we find if a video is fake or not? When you watch a video, look for problems with skin or hair or faces that seem to be blurrier than the environment in which they are positioned. Also, watch out for unnatural lighting in videos, as deepfake algorithms will retain the lighting of the clips that were utilised as models for the fake videos. On top of that, in deepfake videos, the audio might not appear to match the person. If you see these signs, be sure to report it and before sharing any video, make sure that it contains only facts and not misinformation.
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