Instead of showing up to your next meeting in-person or through Zoom, what if you could send a lifelike virtual simulation of yourself in your place? While such an option may seem like wishful thinking, we're now entering a new era of deepfake technology, which uses artificial intelligence to replace or alter the likeness of a person's image and voice, as a tool for workplace communications. More companies are now using deepfake video technology for applications such as employee training, interactions with customers, and advertising. 

And thanks to a bevy of new deepfake startups, businesses have the tools to create such virtual simulations in a matter of minutes for relatively little cost. Synthesia, an A.I. video-generation tool, allows users to create digital versions of themselves that can narrate PowerPoint presentations, translate speech into multiple languages, and serve as A.I. avatars. Another startup, Veritone, allows users to create and license deepfakes of their own voice. Rephrase.ai's text-to-video tool enables businesses to quickly create corporate training videos featuring versions of their real employees. And Respeecher, a "deepfake for good" startup, offers cloning technology that can transform one person's voice into another's for use in video games, movies, and other visual productions. 

Deepfakes belong to a broader category of A.I.-generated video and audio applications that the entertainment and tech industries have been using for years. But deepfake technology itself isn't exactly known for benign applications -- it's most commonly associated with revenge porn and misinformation campaigns. A more immediate concern for businesses that use deepfakes is that they worsen an existing problem: the lack of human interaction in the workplace. Especially today, when many companies are shifting to remote work indefinitely, delegating human tasks to an A.I. video tool could undermine worker morale. For companies that face that dilemma, it may be a good idea to step back and evaluate why you need deepfake video technology in the first place.

Also, make sure such tools supplement human interaction rather than replace it. For example, will watching a 10-minute training video be followed by a team meeting or one-on-one chat? Keep in mind that the time A.I. video simulations save going over rudimentary training or tedious tasks could be used for meaningful team interactions. 

Here are a few ways that companies are using deepfake technology to enhance their business.

1. Reach clients in multiple languages

Imagine being able to pitch potential customers in German and Japanese, without speaking a word of either language. Some companies are offering the ability to translate video presentations into multiple languages. For example, Synthesia's platform offers more than 40 different languages and different genders, from a male Bengali voice to a female Danish voice, which can be seamlessly added to your visual deepfake's presentation. A.I. startup Flawless has a tool that allows production studios to create deepfake dubs of the dialogue from films and shows.

2. Create training videos

New employee orientation usually requires someone from human resources to walk workers through the details of their health insurance plans, office perks, and other company policies. To save time onboarding every new group of employees, businesses can instead create personalized deepfake videos. Some notable examples used by Synthesia include videos on how to request time off and book a ticket for IT help, as well as ones that walk new hires through first-day orientation. Amazon, Google, and EY are all Synthesia clients, while Rephrase.ai has created employee training videos for Zappos. 

3. Enhance customer interaction and promote your company

While the text-based chatbots used for customer interaction have long been ubiquitous, a deepfake video chatbot can make such exchanges feel more personal. Companies can record videos that will answer a range of customer questions, while chatbots can also be used to display client testimonials, demonstrate products, and generate leads. Some businesses even use video chatbots for recruiting: Maggiano's, Randstad, and Cathay Pacific Airlines, for example, have used HireVue, a video-based chatbot platform, to speed up their hiring processes.