How do you defeat "deepfakes"? According to Google, you develop more of them. Google just released a large, free database of deepfake videos to help research develop detection tools. Google collaborated with "Jigsaw", a tech "incubator" founded by Google, and the FaceForesenics Benchmark Program at the Technical University of Munich and the University Federico II of Naples. They worked with several paid actors to create hundreds of real videos and then used popular deepfake technologies to generate thousands of fake videos.
The social media giant is putting $10 million into the "Deepfake Detection Challenge," which aims to spur detection research. As part of the project, Facebook is commissioning researchers to produce realistic deepfakes to create a data set for testing detection tools. The company said the videos, which will be released in December, will feature paid actors and that no user data would be utilized. In the run-up to the U.S. presidential election in November 2020, social platforms have been under pressure to tackle the threat of deepfakes, which use artificial intelligence to create hyper-realistic videos where a person appears to say or do something they did not. While there has not been a well-crafted deepfake video with major political consequences in the United States, the potential for manipulated video to cause turmoil was recently demonstrated by a "cheapfake" clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, manually slowed down to make her speech seem slurred.
Deepfake videos can be fun, but not when it comes to politcs and pornography. Now, the state of California is doing something about it with two new bills signed into law last week by Governor Gavin Newsom. The first makes it illegal to post any manipulated videos that could, for instance, replace a candidate's face or speech in order to discredit them, within 60 days of an election. The other will allow residents of the state to sue anyone who puts their image into a pornographic video using deepfake technology. Deepfake videos have become more convincing as of late, especially recent ones from Ctrl Shift Face that show comedian/actor Bill Hader's face replaced by Tom Cruise.
The furor around deepfakes, porn videos that use machine learning to convincingly edit celebrities into sex scenes, has largely died down since many hosting sites banned the clips months ago. But deepfakes are still out there, even on sites where they're not technically allowed. Popular streaming site PornHub, which classifies deepfakes as nonconsensual and theoretically doesn't permit them, still hosts dozens of the videos. BuzzFeed's Charlie Warzel wrote on Wednesday that he'd found more than 100 deepfake videos on PornHub, and they weren't particularly well-hidden. Searches like "deepfake" and "fake deeps" brought up dozens of clips.
Watch -- very closely -- as an ambitious group of A.I. engineers and machine-learning specialists try to mimic reality with such accuracy that you may not be able to tell what's real from what's not. If successful, they'll have created the ultimate deepfake, an ultrarealistic video that makes people appear to say and do things they haven't. Experts warn it may only be a matter of time before someone creates a bogus video that's convincing enough to fool millions of people. Over several months, "The Weekly" embedded with a team of creative young engineers developing the perfect deepfake -- not to manipulate markets or game an election, but to warn the public about the dangers of technology meant to dupe them. The team picked one of the internet's most recognizable personalities, the comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan, who unwittingly provided the inspiration for the engineers' deepfake moonshot.