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Your Loved Ones, and Eerie Tom Cruise Videos, Reanimate Unease With Deepfakes


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An image of Tom Cruise used to create a deepfake video of the movie start.

New deepfake videos renewed attention to the potential of synthetic media.

Credit: VFXChris Ume

To those fearful of a future in which videos of real people are indistinguishable from computer-generated forgeries, two recent developments that attracted an audience of millions might have seemed alarming.

First, a visual effects artist worked with a Tom Cruise impersonator to create startlingly accurate videos imitating the actor. The videos, created with the help of machine-learning techniques and known as deepfakes, gained millions of views on TikTok, Twitter and other social networks in late February.

Then, days later, MyHeritage, a genealogy website best known for its role in tracking down the identity of the Golden State Killer, offered a tool to digitally animate old photographs of loved ones, creating a short, looping video in which people can be seen moving their heads and even smiling. More than 26 million images had been animated using the tool, called Deep Nostalgia, as of Monday, the company said.

The videos renewed attention to the potential of synthetic media, which could lead to significant improvements in the advertising and entertainment industries. But the technology could also be used — and has been — to raise doubts about legitimate videos and to insert people, including children, into pornographic images.

 

From The New York Times
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