back to article Online deepfakes double in just nine months, scaring politicians – and fooling the rest of us

Deepfakes - counterfeit content generated by AI algorithms - are on the rise, staining the internet with doctored pornography, fake videos of political leaders, and bot accounts. There are now 14,678 deepfake videos plastered on the net, according to a report [PDF] written by Deeptrace, a startup focused on building software …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK politicians have already prepared for deepfakes

    by being so outrageously unpleasant, criminal and incompetent they are immune to anything a deepfake could do.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: UK politicians have already prepared for deepfakes

      I keep seeing videos that pretend that Boris Johnson is Prime Minister.

      As if anyone would fall for an idea that ridiculous! They don't even look realistic!

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: UK politicians have already prepared for deepfakes

        Yeah, they didn't even get the texture overlay right on the last one I saw, he looked like a waxwork.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: UK politicians have already prepared for deepfakes

      Has a name been coined yet, for "deepfakes", which, while not genuine, accurately depict reality?

      Inquiring minds want to know.

      1st candidate: Nixon nervously erasing an audio tape...

      1. stiine Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: UK politicians have already prepared for deepfakes

        Just think, you could deepfake FCC chair Ajit Pai and make that Reeses cup standard coffee cup size.

  2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    PS: The US state of California has approved a law that "bans the distribution of manipulated videos and pictures that maliciously aim to give someone a false impression about a political candidate’s actions or words within 60 days of an election," according to Assemblyman Marc Berman (D).

    Good luck in trying to enforce that on the WWW... it will be like trying to carry water with a sieve.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge
      Angel

      carrying water with a sieve is easy... oh, you meant liquid water...

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      More importantly - doesn't that ban any political advert?

      A false impression of the candidate's actions...

      Surely anything said in a political campaign is designed to give a false impression that they actually care.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Deepfakes are not a problem now

    I'm guessing that the tech isn't perfect and fakes can be rather easily detected. A shadow that falls wrong, lighting that is not changed, etc. Today's deepfakes are just the draft versions, it's tomorrow's deepfakes that will be frighteningly realistic.

    So I'm going to do what you cannot count on Joe Public to do : if I see a video on the web with a prominent politician doing unspeakable acts, I'm going to wait for journalists to confirm that it is not a fake and the video is real. Until then, by default everything concerning political figures or celebrities is something I will file in Deepfake until otherwise notified.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Deepfakes are not a problem now

      "I'm going to wait for journalists to confirm that it is not a fake and the video is real."

      It's actually quite hard to tell if you're taking the piss or if you actually meant that.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Deepfakes are not a problem now

        @Sir Spoon - I think the point is missed. Once the story is out, that it's not true, but people want it to be, means it will be "true".

        So a certain gammy ex British PM, red snappers and rock bands, hamsters and rock stars back passages and so forth are clearly unproven, but pass for accepted truths.

        It's more about confirming a persons world view than convincing a skeptic.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Deepfakes are not a problem now

      Deepfakes simply hasten the day when posting to the Internet will required a confirmed ID.

      If posted material can't be trusted based on its face value then there is no alternative but to verify the source.

      1. e^iπ+1=0

        Re: Deepfakes are not a problem now

        "posting to the Internet will required a confirmed ID"

        I think it's already thete in beta.

        Have you heard of a place like China?

    3. jmch Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Deepfakes are not a problem now

      "going to wait for journalists to confirm that it is not a fake and the video is real"

      easy. journalists on the politicians side will say fake, the others will say real. And vice versa

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Deepfakes are not a problem now

      at some point people will no longer trust anything they hear or see.

      That is NOT necessarily a BAD thing...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deepfakes are not a problem now

        Except we all know how well the common crowd (not general public, but the crowded type) will just jump off a cliff because "it can't be real".

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Off the top of my head ...

    Since it's all about "apps" these days, where is the impetus to supply an "app" which generates a sequenced QR code every 10 seconds, and which someone could hold up in a video as proof of authenticity, when it's really needed. No code = no verification.

    Obviously the seed for the sequence is related to a private encryption key that itself can be verified by whoever needs to.

    Not perfect. Bit clunky, But quick, easy and cheap.

    Oh, and totally of no interest to all the tech companies *and* political parties I've contacted. Which (for me) is the bigger story.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Off the top of my head ...

      I remember this concept appeared in that wonderful sci-fi tome - Battlefield Earth. Apparently the aliens were being threatened with a little dragon bomb and there was some way they could verify that the footage of the bomb going off was real.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Off the top of my head ...

      What? You obviously have never seen "cut/paste" in photoshop/divinchi.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Off the top of my head ...

        The QR code would be a digital signature of the previous frame. If you paste a 'valid' QR code after the a different frame the signature would not match.

        The actual reasons for failure are:

        1) The QR code would cover a significant portion of each frame. (Can be fixed by using a detached signature for the complete video just like is already used to validate software)

        2) The signature would not match a video that had been cropped, scaled or transcoded for better compression.

        3) We would be relying on a bunch of raving idiot politicians and PHBs to keep there secret keys secret.

        4) We would be relying on a largely computer illiterate population to install verification software that actually performs verification with the correct public key.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ah, you didn't mention that bit.

          Yeah, it can be done without the QR code via the camera, similar to watermarking current images/video (IIRC some games/software does do this to catch cheats uploading video to Youtube).

          However, as you say, the codes getting out would be oh too easy and the computation rather large I assume (Bitcoin for example is starting to hit economically unviable levels, right?).

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Ah, you didn't mention that bit.

            "However, as you say, the codes getting out would be oh too easy"

            Too late. Signed fakes have been around for years, as well as compromised signing keys.

  5. Cuddles Silver badge

    Profile pictures?

    "Fake bot accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn using deepfake images as profile pictures are plastered on the internet too."

    So what? The problems with faked videos of politicians and so on are fairly obvious, but why would anyone care that a scam Twitter account is using an edited image instead of just a random one it's found someone on the internet?

    1. Free treacle

      Re: Profile pictures?

      Using someone else's picture is problematic as a reverse image search can reveal the scammer is not who they claim to be. Using a unique (generated) image makes them seem more real.

      *edit* so if we can detect the image is generated, it should alert users/systems to the presence of a fraudulent user.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "scaring politicians"

    Well they will keep searching for Emma Watson doing the dirty on their 'work' machines...

    I'm not sure that Ali Bongo clip was a fake... he always was crap at doing magic tricks!

    (can we still mention Ali Bongo?... he was a 70s children's entertainer after all)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a law that "bans the distribution of manipulated videos and pictures that maliciously aim to give someone a false impression about a political candidate’s actions or words within 60 days of an election,"

    Shame it can't be applied to someone's Twatter feed...

  8. Free treacle

    Verified video

    I heard there was a way of encrypting videos with blockchain/crypto between frames so that there is a way of checking if a video has been cut/doctored. Devices would need to insert the encryption as a video is recorded so footage can always be traced back to a verified source.

    How practical that is currently I don't know, but seems like a potential solution to use alongside machine learning.

  9. jmch Silver badge

    attack ads?

    "aim to give someone a false impression about a political candidate’s actions or words within 60 days of an election"

    so, every single 'attack ad' falls foul of this??

    1. DCFusor Silver badge

      Re: attack ads?

      No more so than every positive one. Do you think all pols are virtuous, or that any of it - either way - is other than spin designed to "frame a narrative" - and distract attention from the actual truth? Really?

      Personally, I'm a bit tired of this reality thing. Is there any extra room under that rock?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder

    what was the pressing need they were trying to fulfill inventing this stuff.

    I would appreciate if someone could point me to a use case that is not immoral, unethical or plainly illegal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder

      I bet you're a hoot at parties.

    2. Mr Sceptical
      Meh

      Re: I wonder

      A few ideas:

      1) You'd like to insert yourself (or someone you know) into a famous movie scene for a laugh

      2) There's a deceased person you'd like to re-animate without a very tedious cut & paste of individual frames from their previous works (dead actors)

      3) You'd like to face swap a toy cat and real cat in a video without using snapchat filters

      So, there'll be plenty of reasons that don't harm anyone and aren't pron related - it's just the majority of the effort has gone into various sexual fantasies. Doesn't mean we should try and ban it now.

      1. SonofRojBlake

        Re: I wonder

        The more obvious one is you'd like to paste the face of your big-name, impossible-to-insure actor onto the backflipping-out-of-a-thirtieth-floor-window body of your no-name stuntman. They've been doing exactly this with varying degrees of convincingness since at least Jurassic Park (they pasted the girl's face onto the stuntwoman doubling for her when she was hanging down into the kitchen where the raptors were).

        Another: you've just shot a movie at enormous expense using a big name highly decorated actor. The last reel of film is in the can (or whatever the digital equivalent of that is), and just as you go into the edit suite it turns out your star has been fiddling with kids his whole career. Do you

        (a) hire a different big name actor, remount the shoot and do the whole thing all over again? OR

        (b) hire a different big name actor, take a couple of hundred photos of their face, and simply paste it over the performance you already paid for?

        1. e^iπ+1=0

          Re: I wonder

          "turns out your star has been fiddling with ..."

          This issue has been dealt with in the aftermath of #metoo on numerous productions.

          The current solution seems to be reshoo all scenes featuring the unwanted actor.

          Not sure whether a deepfake solution would tick the right boxes.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: I wonder

            A reshoot may not be possible if one or more of the scenes were one-offs where the set was trashed during the shooting. AND there's a deadline to meet because competing movies are already scheduled. Then it may be deepfake or bust.

    3. stiine Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      Movies. If you can pay a programmer to create the next Sean Connery or Marilyn Monroe, you would no longer have to pay exhorbitant rates to people who can lie with a straight face (or read from a script if you prefer.) One advantage to that is they'll never get old, and you can fire the entire makeup department and the tailors and most of the caterers (along with most of the rest).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @stline - Re: I wonder

        So it's all about money.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: @stline - I wonder

          Isn't it always?

    4. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      "what was the pressing need they were trying to fulfill inventing this stuff."

      I don't KNOW what was in the original programmers' minds, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that the process started out as a late-night, drunken " '...wouldn't it be a neat hack if we could...', 'Y'know... I'll bet if we...' " conversation that they had the misfortune to remember the next morning.

  11. Mr Dogshit

    Ali Bongo?

    The Shriek of Araby?

  12. bigtimehustler

    Currupted individuals? This article is totally devoid of opinion I see. Who brought the writer back from the victoian era?

    1. holmegm Bronze badge

      It's so difficult to tell what is sarcasm anymore.

  13. Ordinary Donkey

    Any independent verification?

    This statistic is lifted from promotional material written by someone who is trying to sell a product to counter the problem they claim is out of control.

    Their tool (which you can't see) gave twice as many positive results (no word on the accuracy) and now people need to give them money or they'll give even more positive results next year.

  14. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    What no link

    I was expecting a vid of Trump in Z's basement playing the part or Marcellus Wallace.

    1. stiine Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: What no link

      Ah, presidential porn....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accept

    that everything on any form of media can be faked and if there is money/power in it, then it will be

    that most people can still be fooled even when they have all the evidence

    that politicians are the last people you should trust to control fakery since it is their stock in trade.

    that you have been lied to by everyone by you met since you were born and you are still no near enlightenment.

    The cake perhaps is real but everything else is a lie to keep you exactly were you are i.e. in the dark and under the thumb

    That politicians are censoring publications in advance of election should not be a surprise to anyone and yet here we are

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Accept

      IOW, Don't Trust Anyone...not even yourself!

      In which case...how does society even operate?

      1. Toni the terrible

        Re: Accept

        Havent you noticed, it can't operate and is in the process of disintergrating. Unless, all the people that are called sheeples are right in ignoring nigh on everything.

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