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Every movie could star Nicolas Cage

Have you heard about deepfakes?  Deepfakes (a combination of the “deep learning” and “fakes”) are "realistic photo, audio, video, and other forgeries generated with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies." You may have seen the PSA Jordan Peele made with BuzzFeed using this technology which appears to be Barack Obama weighing in on a variety of topics and saying things he never said (but which Jordan Peele did say):

Jordan Peele / Obama video:

The technology to create these sorts of videos is becoming cheaper and more mainstream, giving us treats (nightmares?) like these where users have put Nicolas Cage into all sorts of movies and situations:

Nic Cage deepfakes mini compilation:

Don't get fooled by deepfakes

The Nic Cage deepfakes above are clearly done with fun in mind, but the technology can also be used for more nefarious purposes. If you see a video of someone doing something shocking or completely out of character, how can you tell if it's true or it's a deepfake?

This BuzzFeed article by Craig Silverman includes some basic tips you can follow to ensure you don’t get fooled easily by deepfakes (read the article for explanations of each item):

  1. Don't jump to conclusions
  2. Consider the source
  3. Check where else it is (and isn't) online
  4. Inspect the mouth
  5. Slow it down

Can you spot the deepfakes?

CNN's page about deepfakes includes a 4-question quiz: https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/01/business/pentagons-race-against-deepfakes/

The MIT Media Lab has an extensive quiz which will let you know after each response if you got it right, and after 10 responses will let you how you rank against other users:  https://detectfakes.media.mit.edu/ 

More than just deepfakes

Misleading videos include more than just AI-generated deepfakes. The Washington Post's "The Fact Checker's guide to manipulated video" spells out many of the ways video can be manipulated to be false or misleading. Good information to know!


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I just heard about deepfakes in my ethics class. The technology used to create them (generative adversarial networks) seems really powerful and has a lot of potentially useful applications. Naturally, adding Nicolas Cage to things was at the top of the list.

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