In the near future, you won’t be able to believe anything you see online

By Alvin Soon - on 15 Dec 2017, 10:01am

Photo by Rhett Wesley on Unsplash.

What if, in the near future, nearly anyone could create realistically fake photos and videos of nearly anyone else? What do you think the results would be?

It’s a thought experiment that now comes with a proof of concept. Motherboard recently wrote about an anonymous Redditor who uses machine learning to edit celebrity faces onto porn videos, with startlingly realistic results. The effect isn’t 100% perfect, but consider that it wasn’t done by a team of visual effects experts, but by a single person.

According to the Redditor, the videos were created with easily accessible materials and open-source libraries, like Google’s TensorFlow. He trained his algorithms on these celebrities’ faces, then had them manipulate the videos. He reveals that he’s not a professional researcher, just a programmer who’s interested in machine learning.

This ability to make images of anyone doing anything are just a logical next step in the advancements AI is making with image recognition and manipulation. In recent years, we’ve seen Adobe’s VoCo audio editing suite, which can simulate a person’s voice after listening to it for 20 minutes. Research project Face2Face demonstrated that AI can realistically manipulate videos of real faces. NVIDIA has an AI system that can change things like the seasons, time of day, and weather in videos.

It’s not a stretch, then, to imagine that if a programmer can make fake videos of people using machine learning today, then with the right tools, someday amateur programmers will be able to do the same using anyone’s face, as long as there are enough photos and images of that person online.

Most of us are already wary of fake news from dodgy sources, but what happens when it’s no longer text that’s fake, but actual video and audio footage of someone who looks and sounds exactly like the real thing? Looking at how the technology develops, it’s only a question of when, not if, we get there. In the near future, it looks like nobody will be able to believe anything they see online anymore, with any real confidence.

Alvin Soon

Alvin Soon / Former Deputy Editor

I like coffee and cameras, but not together.

Join HWZ's Telegram channel here and catch all the latest tech news!
Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may earn a small commission.