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Bridge Bytes: Who’s who, could deepfakes become the biggest threat to modern day society?

12 months ago by Nathan Baldwin

Facial recognition technology

If you don’t know what deepfakes are, google them. Some of the videos are as much mind blowing as they are disturbing.

Watching Bruce Lee effortlessly morph into Keanu Reeves with your own eyes makes you question your own sanity. The Tom Cruise and Bill Hader deepfake is even worse (but everything is usually worse with Tom Cruise). But apart from disorienting people across the internet, could this visually disturbing and seamless technology become a threat to our society?

Check out a Tom Cruise, Bill Hader and Seth Rogan deepfake below:

 
 

Political face off

In a time where world leaders are openly warring on Twitter, it doesn’t take much to offset the precariously balanced scales.  Just imagine, a seemingly genuine video of Vladimir Putin mocking Kim Jong Un’s affinity for bad haircuts and dodgy suits. The results could very well spell W A R. There are already several deepfake videos circulating online, depicting the likes of Donal Trump delivering a mock speech originally performed by Jimmy Fallon on Saturday Night Live and Barack Obama as The Black Panther. Currently, no deepfakes have depicted world leaders openly declare war, but that’s not to say it can’t or won’t happen.

The ‘drunken’ speaker

Earlier this year, footage of the US House of Representatives member, Nancy Pelosi, appeared online, attracting thousands of comments and opinions across social media. The video appeared to show the Democratic Representative deliver her speech with a drunken stupor, slurring her words as though she had just come in from a week-long bender.

The video was later revealed to be a deepfake, created and shared by a 34-year-old self-proclaimed ‘Trump super-fan’. This was the first case a deepfake video had forced a politician to address the video’s validity. In a fake-news dominated society, could deepfakes become a tool to facilitate political smear campaigns?

California crackdown

California are taking no chances when it comes to deepfake videos swaying the ballot boxes. They have already passed a law that prohibits the creation and distribution of digitally altered videos during election season. The law explicitly states it is ‘a crime to distribute audio or video that gives a false, damaging impression of a politician’s words or actions.’

There still appears to be some grey area however, the newly passed law does have clause ‘potentially deceptive video or audio will also be allowed if it includes a disclaimer noting that it’s fake.’ There isn’t anything explicitly stating how a video should be legally labelled as fake, legal deepfake videos shared online could be edited and shared to wider networks.

There is no way of telling to what extent deepfakes will impact future political debate and decision making. But, without the right laws in place, they could have wider implications on society. If the technology became widely accessible to the public, the threat of implicating innocent people in certain situations could become very real.  

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