What are deepfakes?

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The internet is littered with videos of people doing and saying fantastical things. Some of them are not real, even though they look like they are real. A person’s mouth will be moving, and you will be fooled into thinking they are actually saying the things they are. Or animals will look like they are talking. But they aren’t! These are deepfakes.

Here’s a funny one by Dr. Fakenstein, for all of you Full House fanatics!

 

Why is this done? Sometimes photos and videos are altered to hide or mask the face of the person who is speaking. Perhaps they will be in danger if their identity is revealed. Some are created to make it seem like certain people are saying things – to spread fake news! This can be very dangerous. There is a lot at stake during this time of political unrest in so many parts of the world, and high profile elections like the US Presidential election coming up in 2020. Mischief mongers have great power to influence all of us who get so much of our information on the internet.

How is this done? There is CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) software to do this – like what they use in the movies. The software has become better and better over time. There are also apps that can do this. And the MIT Download recently reported that there is new technology that has been developed to do this. This uses Artificial Intelligence that has been trained on a dataset of 1.5 million faces, to change the look of a person in a picture or a video, until it doesn’t resemble the actual person anymore!

How do you spot a deepfake? People are trying to figure this out. Big technology companies like Google and Facebook are spending lots of money to try and spot deepfakes.

In the meantime, don’t believe everything you see, and it’s probably a good idea to check a piece of information from a few different sources before believing it.


Written by: Sunaina Murthy

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