Terrifying high-tech porn: Creepy 'deepfake' videos are on the rise

By John Brandon

Published February 16, 2018

Artificial intelligence and machine learning help us in countless ways. Bots like Alexa and Cortana can read the news on cue; a Tesla Model S can park itself in your garage.

Yet, as with any emerging technology meant to help mankind, it’s not uncommon for criminals and hackers to abuse the innovations and cause great harm.

The latest exploit? They are called deepfakes, and they are spreading like wildfire.

The term is a combination of “deep learning” and “fake” — deepfakes rely on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Programmers use existing video and images of celebrities, public figures, or anyone they know to superimpose the source images into a pornographic movie.

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The movies look ultra-realistic. A Hollywood star could ‘appear’ in an adult film and you might not realize it was all created by a bot. Used for revenge porn, a programmer can insert an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend into a pornographic movie and share it on social media.

“This is very dangerous for a celebrity because the technology is so good that nearly all viewers will assume that the video they are looking at is real and attribute whatever emotion they feel to that celebrity,” Lou Dennig, an Emmy-nominated Hollywood studio executive, told Fox News.

AI expert Alex Nachlas said deepfakes are not difficult to program, and the source code is freely available. Recently, sites like Reddit and Twitter have banned them. Nachlas says there’s typically a neural network that scans hundreds or thousands of source images. And, he says deepfakes are now possible because of increased computing power.

“It is inevitable that consumer applications will appear on Apple Store and Google Play in the near future, offering video alteration through neural networks for general consumer amusement,” said AI expert Pavel Cherkashin, a managing partner at GVA Capital. Indeed, software is already available that lets people ‘swap’ faces on videos.

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Darren Campo, a New York University adjunct professor at the Stern School of Business, said deepfakes could even be created from a few Instagram Stories. Eventually, he says they will go “full fake” and re-create the entire body of an actor or an ex for an adult movie.

The technology behind deepfakes, however, could also be used for less seedy purposes.

Nachlas said deepfake technology could help Hollywood movie-makers recreate classic scenes in movies, to create new movies that license the image of long-dead stars, and even as a way to improve an amateur video. The technology could also be used to help people deal with the loss of loved ones.

Joshua Watson, who runs the tech company IronRock Solutions, told Fox News that deepfakes prove that AI is advancing quickly, even if the concept is currently being abused.

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“Perhaps one day it could even be used to help a grieving loved one say goodbye to a face they recognize or even to help people with Alzheimer's interact with a younger face they may remember,” he said.

For now, banning deepfakes ─ especially as a tool for revenge porn ─ is the only recourse. And, we’ll likely start hearing about new regulations and laws. Hopefully, programmers will find positive uses for the AI and machine learning before that happens.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2018/02/16/terrifying-high-tech-porn-creepy-deepfake-videos-are-on-rise.html