Computer scientists have developed a tool that detects deepfake photos with near-perfect accuracy. The system, which analyzes light reflections in a subject's eyes, proved 94 percent effective in experiments. In real portraits, the light reflected in our eyes is generally in the same shape and color, because both eyes are looking at the same thing. Since deepfakes are composites made from many different photos, most omit this crucial detail. Deepfakes became a particular concern during the 2020 US presidential election, raising concerns they'd be use to discredit candidates and spread disinformation.
Three days ago, a TikTok account going by @deeptomcruise began posting video clips of the Hollywood actor Tom Cruise doing everything from golfing, to tripping and telling a joke in what appears to be a men's clothing store in Italy, to performing a magic trick with a coin. In each of the three videos, Cruise delivers his signature maniacal laugh--you know, the one he repeatedly unleashed in that batty Scientology recruitment video years back--before launching into some sort of bit, and in all of them, it looks just like Cruise. There are a few giveaways, of course. Also, his voice is hollow and scratchy, a la that scene in Face/Off where John Travolta-as-Nicolas Cage is trying to adjust his vocals to that Cage-ian timbre. Still, the Cruise TikToks managed to bewilder and horrify a number of people.
However, the latest videos of the movie star are not actually of him. The 58-year-old actor is seen in the videos doing simple things like magic tricks, telling jokes and playing golf, but account user @deeptomcruise is actually using "deepfakes" to get Tom Cruise's face in the video. A TikTok account of Tom Cruise has popped up … but there's a twist. The user is using "deepfakes", manipulated AI technology. Deepfakes are manipulated AI technology that can mimic people's faces in videos.
Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at UC Berkeley, says the dangers in sophisticated phony videos called "deepfakes" are amplified in their potential to travel rapidly across social media. Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at UC Berkeley, says the dangers in sophisticated phony videos called "deepfakes" are amplified in their potential to travel rapidly across social media. The videos, uploaded to TikTok in recent weeks by the account @deeptomcruise, have raised new fears over the proliferation of convincing deepfakes -- the nickname for media generated by artificial intelligence technology showing phony events that often seem realistic enough to dupe an audience. Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told NPR's All Things Considered that the Cruise videos demonstrate a step up in the technology's evolving sophistication. "This is clearly a new category of deepfake that we have not seen before," said Farid, who researches digital forensics and misinformation.
Joining TikTok has become something of a trend for Hollywood celebrities stuck at home like everyone else. So it wasn't necessarily surprising to see Tom Cruise on the app, sharing videos of himself playing golf and pratfalling around the house. But the strange thing is that Cruise never actually made the videos. And the account that posted them, DeepTomCruise, wore that on its sleeve: it was openly the work of a talented creator of "deepfakes", AI-generated video clips that use a variety of techniques to create situations that have never happened in the real world. Despite being open about its falseness, the account's videos are so realistic that they still prompted wild speculation.