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Deepfake, a portmanteau of "deep learning" and "fake", is an artificial intelligence-based human image synthesis technique. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images or videos.
Deepfakes may be used to create fake celebrity pornographic videos or revenge porn. Deepfake pornography surfaced on the Internet in 2017, particularly on Reddit, and has been banned by sites including Reddit, Twitter, and Pornhub. Deepfakes can be used to create fake news and malicious hoaxes.
Techniques for faking facial gestures and rendering onto the target video as look-alike of the target person were presented in 2016 and allow near real-time counterfeiting of facial expressions in existing 2D video.
In autumn 2017, an anonymous Reddit user under the pseudonym "Deepfakes" posted several porn videos on the Internet. The first one that captured attention was the Daisy Ridley deepfake. It was also one of the more known deepfake videos, and a prominent feature in several articles. Another one was a Deepfake simulation of Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot having sex with her step-brother, while others were of actresses like Emma Watson, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift or Scarlett Johansson. The scenes were not real, having been created with an artificial intelligence. They were debunked a short time later. As time went on, the Reddit community fixed many bugs in the faked videos, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish fake from true content. As training data for the software, Reddit users used records from sex films and the respective actress. The Deepfake phenomenon was first reported in December 2017 in the technical and scientific section of the magazine Vice, leading to its widespread reporting in other media.
In the United Kingdom, producers of deepfake material can be prosecuted for harassment but there are calls to make Deepfake a specific crime.
Deepfakes have been used to misrepresent well-known politicians on video portals or chatrooms. For example, the face of the Argentine President Mauricio Macri was replaced by the face of Adolf Hitler, and Angela Merkel's face was replaced with Donald Trump's. In April 2018, Jordan Peele and Jonah Peretti created a deepfake using Barack Obama as a public service announcement about the danger of deepfakes.
In January 2018, a desktop application called FakeApp was launched. The app allows users to easily create and share videos with faces swapped. The app uses an artificial neural network and the power of the graphics processor and three to four gigabytes of storage space to generate the fake video. For detailed information, the program needs a lot of visual material from the person to be inserted in order to learn which image aspects have to be exchanged, using the deep learning algorithm based on the video sequences and images. The software uses the AI-Framework TensorFlow of Google, which among other things was already used for the program DeepDream. Celebrities are the main targets of such fake sex videos, but some other people are also affected. In August 2018, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley published a paper introducing a fake dancing app that can replace a child with an expert dancer using AI.
The Aargauer Zeitung says that the manipulation of images and videos using artificial intelligence could become a dangerous mass phenomenon. However, the falsification of images and videos is even older than the advent of video editing software and image editing programs; in this case it is the realism that is a new aspect.
Effects on credibility and authenticity
Another effect of Deepfake is that it can no longer be distinguished whether content is targeted (e.g. satire) or genuine. AI researcher Alex Champandard has said everyone should know how fast things can be corrupted today with this technology, and that the problem is not technical one, but rather one to be solved by trust in information and journalism. The primary pitfall is that humanity could fall into an age in which it can no longer be determined whether the depicted media corresponds to the truth.
Some websites, such as Twitter and Gfycat, announced that they would delete Deepfake content and block its publishers. Previously, the chat platform Discord blocked a chat channel with fake celebrity porn videos. The pornography website, Pornhub, also plans to block such content, however it has been reported that the site has not been enforcing its ban. At Reddit, the situation initially remained unclear until the subreddit was suspended on February 7, 2018 due to the policy violation of "involuntary pornography".
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