The Technology trap: 'Deepfake' world
- by Dr Ananth Prabhu G

  • Sun,18 Aug 2019 07:56:05 AM

Ananth Prabhu G, PhD and Post Doctoral Fellow is a Professor in Sahyadri College of Engineering and Management. He is also the Cyber Law Trainer at the Karnataka Judicial Academy and Cyber Security Trainer at the Karnataka Police Academy.

Aug 18, 2019

“Technology is a neat slave but a perilous master.”

If we must contemplate over this powerful statement, one must delve deeper into the universe of technology to figure out his/her own perspective or conclusion over man’s biggest marvel ever created. Right from the first time the telephone was made to the brand new Apple iPhoneX, we’ve indeed come a long way in the history of technology.

Now, you could also be miles and miles away (like in the Maldives) but still lay in bed binging on Netflix. Just made the impossible, possible? That’s no big deal for technology-it’s just doing its job, we’d say. But what made this visual fantasy into something so legitimately unimaginable but so real, people would actually buy it?
Simple. It’s Artificial Intelligence.

With the use of AI and synthesizing or superimposing pictures over another, or in simple terms, photoshop or morphing, one could easily modify their pictures and probably prove that he went to space! Now this entire concept about using AI for human synthesis or photoshop, is what we call as The Deepfake Technology.

So here’s the deal about Deepfake. As unusual and vague as it sounds, this type of technology is termed so because it is certainly ‘deep’ since the technology is based on AI and it surely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea to dig deeper into the science of it, and ‘fake’, because it is evident that human synthesis of pictures as well as video and media takes place.

And now you must be wondering if all these photos & videos you received on your group chats are fake or not. Well the thing about fake videos and pictures is, it is created with the help of a machine learning technique called as “generative adversarial network” or GAN. It is this kind of multi-use tech from where one makes all these uncanny and fake images for several intentions.

To widen your perspective, check out this expertly crafted deepfake of Bill Hader, a comedian, who mimics Tom Cruise and Seth Rogan:

This video has been going viral for quite some time now, and this is clearly something intensely deep for our brains to process.

Similar deepfakes have been created which have targeted celebrities where even women celebrities’ faces have been digitally altered on to bodies of women in pornography, and published on social media. There could be an ocean of possibilities behind the use of deepfake- for cynical reasons or even revenge.

Although there are multiple uses of deepfake, most of which seems to be inclined towards the bane-boat, the universe of AI based deepfake technology is really a wondrous field invented by mankind; now Siri could have a face and speak like Dwayne Johnson to get you going with your fitness routine. This is one of AI’s biggest surplus in the field of communication and video generation, where we could even create a digitized version of humans who could dance for a video when they actually don’t even exist in real time! Imagine seeing yourself in Marvel’s Endgame movie beating the hell out of Thanos! It’s like every marvel fan’s dream come true.

As astounding as it sounds, there are several aspects about this area that we need to keep in mind, such as checking for deepfaked videos or pictures with the help of certain websites that detect deepfaked material (e.g.: Deeptrace, a startup to combat cyber threats from deepfake), immediately reporting unusual videos if you think they’re from the forged media etc.

Although Bill Hader’s deepfaked video is enchanting to watch, it could be petrifying our future. We live in a contemporary planet of machines, gadgets, and digitized way of living. Each of us, as individuals must be certain of our actions in this modernized world since every step taken could either threaten or benefit the present-day domain and also to mankind. Because at one point, technology, with its sophisticated methods, might soon take over what humans will have once considered worth serving their purpose



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