If You Think Fake News Is Bad, Fake Video Is Coming

By Benny Evangelista
San Francisco Chronicle

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In some of the new fake video technology, programs can scan videos and still photos of one person and paint that person’s features onto another person in a separate video.

San Francisco Chronicle

One video appears to show “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot performing in a pornographic scene.

Another depicts what the love child of President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel might look like.
These “deepfake” videos — sometimes disturbing, sometimes entertaining creations of reality-distorting, face-swapping technology — are proliferating.

And in a social-media crazed world where people have trouble discerning what is and isn’t fake news, some computer scientists worry that such videos herald the escalation of a larger existential threat to the fabric of democracy, especially if used for malevolent purposes. In coming years, it may be hard to tell whether a video is real or fake.

“I’m worried about the death by a thousand cuts to our sense of reality as it gets easier and easier to mimic it, and the impact that will have in neutering checks on actual crime and corruption, even at the highest levels,” said Aviv Ovadya, chief technologist for the University of Michigan’s Center for Social Media Responsibility.
“This is a way that democracies fail.”

Granted, the sky remains firmly in place even though a few doctored celebrity porn videos began appearing late last year on the San Francisco social news site Reddit, as first reported by the tech news site Motherboard.

But the development demonstrated how media-altering technologies are no longer solely in the hands of professionals at movie visual effects studios. Since people can create fake videos on their home computers, anyone will, in effect, be able to turn legitimate photos, audio recordings and videos into false, potentially damaging instruments of propaganda and social discord.

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