Telefnica SA : Deepfake Technology, Beyond Reality, Cybersecurity and Life (and Death)


If people are a mixture of light and shadow, technology as a tool can become that. The outcome depends on the ultimate intent of whoever is in control. One of the dark sides of artificial intelligence lies in deepfakes. But all is not as bad as it seems.

Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have all been victims of deepfakes. Even someone like Tom Cruise has had competition from a deepfake with his own account on TikTok.

Actor Steve Buscemi’s face replaced actress Jennifer Lawrence’s, while Scarlett Johansson was less fortunate and hers was used in pornographic videos.

His name alone tells us everything. The term deepfake comes from “deep”, which refers to deep learning, and “fake” or “false”. In short, a deepfake is a video in which the face or voice of a famous person is imitated in such a way that it is superimposed on the face of another person with similar morphological characteristics.

In this way, the image of the repressed person is manipulated, and of course the information that can be given is also manipulated.

This technology is based on artificial intelligence and relies on machine learning. Because it uses data analysis to simulate the face or voice of another person as realistically as possible.

This data is gleaned from hundreds of hours of recordings of the person to be “replicated” and used to create new data, in other words, to easily recreate not only a person’s image but also their gestures and way of speaking.

Known Tasks

Deep learning is essential for the above. It’s a branch of machine learning that gives machines the ability to learn automatically without a human having to program them. This allows them to make predictions, for example.

Deep learning takes it a step further, as it trains the machine to develop a technique that will help it perform tasks such as image and speech recognition. This is something that has been used in a different form for quite some time.

The sound and image recognition systems that can be found in virtual assistants such as Alexa, Google, Cortana and Siri as well as some game consoles are well known.

So, similar to the human brain, computers can perform tasks and work and understand the data they process. Most importantly, deep learning makes it easier to recognize and create patterns.

threats to businesses

News of the use of deepfakes in pornography came to light in 2017. High-profile actresses like Natalie Portman and world-famous singers like Taylor Swift have had their faces used in pornographic videos.

These scandals were followed by other equally harmful ones in the form of hoaxes and fake news. The problem of misinformation began to manifest itself in the form of manipulated and very real videos, so much so that it is now a cause for concern for AI and cybersecurity professionals due to the loss of trust in the news reaching the public and the potential for fraud to be engaged .

According to a Tessian survey, 74% of IT managers are concerned about the potential impact of these videos. For companies, this can lead to problems in sensitive areas such as cybersecurity and data protection.

Identity theft and fraud are risks. For example, cybercriminals can create a person’s image or prompt their employees to perform compromising operations, technology consultancy Entelgy warns.

Businesses can also be affected by smear campaigns and damage their reputation. The above leads to a need for improved cybersecurity systems.

reality in dispute

The debate is on the table: what is true and what is not? To shed light on the darkness, Michigan State University (USA) and Facebook are working together on a new approach using reverse engineering.

The goal is not only to detect the manipulation, but also to track down the source to identify the patterns and the AI ​​model that generates these videos in real environments. This is possible because each image generated by the AI ​​model leaves a footprint, and this footprint can be compared to those of other manipulated videos.

Other uses: the downside of deepfake

Not everything is necessarily bad. Using this content also has its good and fun sides. Entertainment, without malicious intent, is one of the sectors that can boast of deepfakes that do no harm to anyone, quite the contrary.

The film world is already benefiting from this technology and thanks to AI, Millie Bobby Brown, the actress from the extraordinary TV series “Stranger Things”, has regained the life and youth of the star princess Leia.

The same technology made it possible to keep the character in Star Wars: Villain Onedespite the death of Carrie Fisher, and it featured a younger Robert de Niro playing his role in The Irishman.

Another example is that of Salvador Dalí, brought back to life in an American museum. In an exhibition entitled Dali Lives, the genius stars in 125 interactive videos that enhance and enrich the visitor’s experience.

Dalí has ​​also entered the field of advertising in a campaign for the Queen Sofia Foundation, addressing the need to encourage research into neurodegenerative diseases as the artist suffered from Parkinson’s disease. The world of advertising has also brought back the accent of Lola Flores to promote a well-known brand of beer.

Although deepfake technology is very difficult to spot for the untrained eye, we always have common sense and the ability to double-check anything that may seem different. The manipulation of the above videos means that the adage “seeing is believing” is no longer true.


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