That's troubling not only because these fakes might be used to sway opinions during an election or implicate a person in a crime, but because they've already been abused to generate pornographic material of actors and defraud a major energy producer. In anticipation of this new reality, a coalition of academic institutions, tech firms, and nonprofits are developing ways to spot misleading AI-generated media. Their work suggests that detection tools are a viable short-term solution but that the deepfake arms race is just beginning. The best AI-produced prose used to be closer to Mad Libs than The Grapes of Wrath, but cutting-edge language models can now write with humanlike pith and cogency. San Francisco research firm OpenAI's GPT-2 takes seconds to craft passages in the style of a New Yorker article or brainstorm game scenarios.
Headlines from the likes of The New York Times ("Deepfakes Are Coming. We Can No Longer Believe What We See"), The Wall Street Journal ("Deepfake Videos Are Getting Real and That's a Problem"), and The Washington Post ("Top AI researchers race to detect'deepfake' videos: 'We are outgunned'") would have us believe that clever fakes may soon make it impossible to distinguish truth from falsehood. Deepfakes -- pieces of AI-synthesized image and video content persuasively depicting things that never happened -- are now a constant presence in conversations about the future of disinformation. These concerns have been kicked into even higher gear by the swiftly approaching 2020 U.S. election. A video essay from The Atlantic admonishes us: "Ahead of 2020, Beware the Deepfake."
Lying has never looked so good, literally. Concern over increasingly sophisticated technology able to create convincingly faked videos and audio, so-called'deepfakes', is rising around the world. But at the same time they're being developed, technologists are also fighting back against the falsehoods. "The concern is that there will be a growing movement globally to undermine the quality of the information sphere and undermine the quality of discourse necessary in a democracy," Eileen Donahoe, a member of the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, told CNBC in December 2018. She said deepfakes are potentially the next generation of disinformation.
Deepfakes are video manipulations that can make people say seemingly strange things. Barack Obama and Nicolas Cage have been featured in these videos. It used to take a lot of time and expertise to realistically falsify videos. For decades, authentic-looking video renderings were only seen in big-budget sci-fi movies films like "Star Wars." However, thanks to the rise in artificial intelligence, doctoring footage has become more accessible than ever, which researchers say poses a threat to national security.