Did you realize that a creep with an app, a collection of your online photos, and a video could make it seem like you did things you didn't? Unfortunately, this is no fantasy, as many stars like Gal Gadot and others victimized by fake celebrity porn are being forced to discover.

Deepfakes are a thing.

The ugly truth is that the phenomenon of "deepfakes" isn't just for porn, subreddit dungeon dwellers, or movie special effects. The most famous, and legally approved, example of a deepfake is the recent Star Wars Rogue 1 movie, where a 19-year-old Carrie Fisher was recreated with AI.

The technical capacity to fake your face and voice in video is coming for normal folks who do normal things like manage people, speak at conferences, get romantic, and make tough choices, too. What if when you make tough choices, like letting someone go, could the people who didn't like your choice "reinvent reality" on video?

Deepfakes are video with superimposed, fake faces.

To give you a sense of what a deepfake looks like today, check out this fake video of Donald Trump interviewing himself. It's not using movie quality production. You'll notice some of the "cheap tricks" in the way the interviewer's face isn't perfectly set and the light flashes. It looks pretty fake some of the time. Keep in mind though, it's a close-up. Would this be as easy to detect at a distance of more than 50 feet?

Here's another example of how a face can be faked in video, this time with explanations along the way:

Deepfakes can often be spotted at the moment.

However, with better computers and GPUs, movie producers have been creating realistic fictional space battles, monsters, and comic book heroes for quite a while and the technology is moving down market. Faking reality is riveting in the world of fiction. In the world of fact, some of these techniques going mainstream are downright terrifying. They can be used to create creepily real video that forges your face onto someone else's video image.

For your viewing pleasure, here's a Nick Cage compilation that's mostly awful, but it will get you thinking:

Now you probably want to know how deepfakes work.                                                                    

1.     A creep gathers lots of photos of you, online.

He or she could use Facebook, Snapchat, or Google images . . .  The easy way is to Google your name, look under Google Images, and get a glimpse of how many are readily available. Searching your name in Facebook or Snapchat also turns up more looks. You "get the picture." You are editing your online presence, right?

2.     The creep picks a video to superimpose you on.

The most popular choice these days seems to be pornographic, but it could be any kind of video, even one they took. Imagine a video from your office, of another person who has a similar body shape to you, doing something you'd never do. Video surveillance hosting companies like SmartVue and others have more footage than Youtube already.

3.     A deepfake program does the work of mapping your face onto the video.

Deepfake programs are constantly improving. Next year's won't have these same artifacts that are bugging you in the Trump and Cage videos.

Deepfakes are getting banned.

Twitter, Reddit, and other sites have banned the use of deepfakes, sensing perhaps that encouraging a digital Black Mirror world is one no one wants to live in just yet. But that shouldn't make you feel too safe.

"It absolutely bears repeating that so much of our brains' cognitive capacities are predicated on believing what we see," law professor Eric Goldman told the Verge recently. "The proliferation of tools to make fake photos and fake videos that are indistinguishable from real photos and videos is going to test that basic, human capacity," he said.

Deepfakes open a door for innovators on both sides

The fact is, the law is far behind technology (as per usual). It will be up to entrepreneurs like you to create tools that can protect your privacy, your ownership of your face, and more. Think of innovations like:

·      Blockchain secured security footage that doesn't allow tampering like deepfakes

·      Video forensic apps that detect tampering

·      Sites that guarantee takedowns on tampered video or personal presence faking

For deepfakes, the innovation's pain is the innovation's promise.

We're on the brink of a world where what's real and what's not will be undetectable by our biological systems--our eyesight, hearing, and evolution-trained response systems. You are used to your sometimes-fake-news being determined by algorithms. You've accepted cookies to the point where your advertising is contextualized. Deepfakes are just the next iteration. We're coming to a place where artificial intelligence is needed to counter artificial intelligence.  Deepfake videos are a fuzzy window into how completely our digital reality can be rewired without our permission tomorrow. What are you going to do about it?

Published on: Feb 13, 2018