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Disturbing new technology

By Rosie Perera | February 3, 2018 at 12:57 am

I’d seen “faceswapped” photos before, and have done my own photoshopping of images to put faces of people I know into famous paintings. But I first became aware of the technology that lets people to edit video footage, replacing heads in the video with other people’s heads, through this impressive montage of Trump and his cronies being arrested by the FBI that was circulating around social media a while back. It is truly impressive, though it’s quite obvious that it’s a fake. And because it comported with my own political leanings, I laughed at it, passed it along, and thought no further about it.

Then tonight I came across this worrisome article and learn a new word (“deepfakes”) and about a new trend that could be used for nefarious purposes.

Deepfakes Porn Has Serious Consequences (BBC)

Of course I had laughed off the Trump arrest video above (though his supporters may think there was a nefarious purpose underlying it). But the technology will only get better, to the point where it’s seamless and the fakeness can’t be easily detected. And things like that could be done to denigrate or even ruin the lives of people I trust. It could severely undermine our ability to detect what real and what is fake, which is already being messed with. Makes the old VHS ad campaign slogan “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” (often misremembered as “Is it real, or is it Memorex?”) sound quaint. There will soon come a time when we literally can’t believe our eyes anymore. I shudder to think of it.

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