There are plenty of celebrities on social media – but you can’t take all of the famous names you see online at face value.
An incredibly convincing spoof Tom Cruise account on popular video sharing site TikTok has been exposed as powered by Deepfakes – the AI-based technology that can create incredibly realistic fake videos of anyone.
One TikTok user, photographer Lauren White commented: “Deep fakes are getting scary good and taking over TikTok.
"Every public figure should just be on there with a verified account – even if they don’t want to make content – to make it easier to identify their fakes."
The videos on the @deeptomcruise account appear to show the Hollywood legend doing simple magic tricks, playing golf and telling dad-jokes.
However, closer examination reveals that AI trickery is at work.
Artificial intelligence is now so good at creating ultra-realistic deepfake videos that soon, not even another AI will be able to detect the deception, warns researcher Nina Schick.
She told the Daily Star: “You might get to the post where the generators are so perfect that even an AI won’t be able to tell the difference between a real video and a fake video.
"That’s already the case with text written by artificial intelligences. No-one can tell…”
The threat is serious. While little harm can come of TikTok users being fooled into thinking Tom Cruise has developed a sideline in close-up magic, people could potentially to lose their life savings because they believed in fake video calls from rogue AIs.
On a global level, political careers can be made or lost, and even wars could start because of convincing faked video footage.
Speaking to the Daily Star, Nina Schick predicts that within the next decade we are going to be so inundated with synthetic content, we won't know what's real any more.
For example, Maxine, a new video conferencing program created by computer graphics experts Nvidia, edits the user’s face in real time so that they appear to be looking directly into the camera when they are in fact peering at a screen showing the other person in the conversation.
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“That can easily go on to the creation of complete digital avatars,” says Nina, “where for example I haven’t done my hair and makeup today so I get my digital avatar to talk to you instead."
In Nina’s book Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse, she explores the sudden boom in AI-powered image and video editing, and how it becoming increasingly difficult to decide whether what we are looking at is real.
She says that with the growing sophistication of fake videos, fake photos, even fake texts and phone calls, we are perhaps a few months away from losing the concept of truth.
Nina added: “If we can’t tell when still images have been edited – on software that’s been around for 30 years – what the hell are we going to do when it comes to video and audio and text too…
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