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How Far and Dark will Deepfakes Go?

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As AI integrates more deeply into our daily lives, deepfake technology has become a growing concern for many, particularly those fond of sharing personal moments on social media. Whether it's a night out with friends or a family picnic in the Bahamas, photos shared across platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat aren't necessarily safe from potential misuse.

A young woman from Korea recently took to social media to express her distress over a deepfake video made as an act of revenge. In the video, she appeared to be undressed. She passionately pleaded for the removal of the AI-generated video and urged the individual to stop its distribution.

In October 2023, renowned figures such as CBS Mornings co-host Gayle King, actor Tom Hanks, and YouTube personality MrBeast were victims of unauthorized deepfake videos that spread across social media platforms. Another video featuring CNN journalist Clarissa Ward near the Israel-Gaza border was manipulated to cast doubt on her reporting.

These videos, crafted with cutting-edge deepfake technology, have the power to substitute individuals within existing content. Their realistic nature is unsettling, leading many to believe in their authenticity. This includes AI-generated songs mimicking famous stars, some of which have become chart-toppers.

Such events have sparked global concerns about the potential for public humiliation, harassment, and blackmail, further highlighting the sinister potential of deepfakes.

Why Deepfake Technology is More Dangerous Than You Think

The rise in disturbing incidents indicates the urgency for proactive measures against deepfakes. Currently, there isn't a universal law addressing deepfakes or unauthorized AI-generated content, even in the United States. While they can't be entirely eradicated, protective steps can be taken.

For those unfamiliar, deepfake technology employs AI to craft realistic but fabricated images, videos, or audio clips. This deceptive technology gained prominence around 2017 when an anonymous Reddit user introduced an algorithm to generate lifelike fake videos.

Though initially intended for entertainment, education, or activism, the rapid advancement of AI, coupled with deepfake capabilities, presents a multitude of security and ethical concerns. This includes:

  1. Privacy Violation: A primary concern is unauthorized use of a person's likeness. Notable cases include deepfake adult videos of celebrities, tarnishing their image. For instance, in 2017, an inappropriate video falsely portraying actress Gal Gadot circulated widely.
  2. Disinformation and Manipulation: Deepfakes can distort truths, influencing public opinion. A notable example is a deepfake video featuring former President Obama, created by BuzzFeed and Jordan Peele. Though intended as a PSA against misinformation, it underscores the technology's potential misuse.
You Won’t Believe What Obama Says In This Video! 😉

  1. Fraud and Blackmail: This technology can produce fake evidence or deceive through voice/image duplication. Criminals might use deepfakes for extortion or even financial fraud, as seen when a UK energy company was tricked into transferring a significant amount, potentially through voice deepfake.
  2. Bias and Discrimination: Deepfakes can perpetuate or amplify societal prejudices, potentially misrepresenting specific demographics.

Deepfakes: Threats to Democracy, Relationships, and Identity

While deepfake technology itself isn't inherently malevolent, its misuse can be damaging. It can distort electoral outcomes, strain personal relationships, and violate personal identity, as showcased in entertainment programs like Netflix's “DeepFake Love” and “Clickbait”.

Concluding Thoughts

Deepfakes are transforming the digital realm, unlocking innovative avenues while posing ethical challenges. The absence of global regulation and effective detection tools makes this a critical issue. While public awareness and media literacy are essential, they form just part of the solution.

It's vital to ponder: Do we view deepfakes as technological wonders or threats to individual and societal well-being? The conversation must persist, as collective awareness and action are crucial in mitigating the detrimental impacts of deepfake technology.

I'm Haris Amer, the guy steering the content ship at SaaSpartners and co-founding Exploreit. Totally hooked on all things AI, and love digging into the nuts and bolts of artificial intelligence.