The Internet is full of fakes, whether people who pretend to be "influencers" through renting their audiences or who claim status as best-selling authors. And then there is ad fraud and brand ads run next to objectionable content that create a connection without their permission.

Put the two concepts together: In the near future, you or your company and brand could land in realistic faked videos. You might find yourself saying or doing things you never would have dreamed or be confounded when your own company video making your brand look bad. Thank the marriage of video editing technology with AI, because the early signs of how bad things could get are already there.

A mainstream example is the 2016 movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. CGI technology resurrected the late Peter Cushing in his role from in the original Star Wars film. Computers were the only option, as the actor had died 20-odd years before filming began. The appearance of Princess Leia in Rogue One was also enabled through CGI, although Carrie Fisher was alive at the time (and gave permission).

The accomplishment is miles beyond the Tupac Shakur resurrection-by-hologram that happened at the Coachella music festival in 2012. New actions, dialog, and miens can be constructed given enough previous material.

The technology has gone ever further, and not through the resources of a global enterprise. Some individual with knowledge of software, access to free AI tools, and a web-full of photos and videos has been able to create faked videos of celebrities, pasting a facial image that changes as desired onto someone else's head. In the case reported by Motherboard, the tasteless application was adding the face of Gal Gadot onto an actress in a pornographic short. "This is no longer rocket science," an AI researcher told the publication. The result supposedly isn't perfect, but how long before the quality leaps ahead and such visual fraud looks absolutely genuine?

Given the number of live video streams from social media, selfies, and other forms of self-expression and promotion you can readily find, many ordinary people, including entrepreneurs and business owners, could become targets. Here are some of the scenarios that could problems:

  • A company creates a damning video and recreates the face of a rival's CEO for a damaged reputation.
  • A former romantic partner takes revenge after a bad breakup and anonymously ensures people in your workplace see it.
  • Someone doctors your company's videos to include information about products or services that would be negative to an important subset of buyers.
  • Your small business produces how-to videos as a form of marketing and a competitor replaces the faces and perhaps background to capitalize on your work.

If this seems farfetched, look at the ease with which someone who possesses common photo editing skills can change the nature and message of images. All the newer technology does is expand the field.

Deciding on what to do is difficult. Marketing one's self or company these days often requires the use of videos and photos that can become the source material for such fakes. The only course of action may be to monitor your public image more closely and have a crisis communications plan, and a lawyer, at the ready.

Published on: Dec 14, 2017