A video produced by BuzzFeed has highlighted the growing problem of DeepFake videos, as it becomes easier than ever to make celebrities appear to say and do anything.
In the video, Barack Obama appears to say some rather un-Obama things, such as Ben Carson being “in the sunken place” or Trump being a “total and complete dipshit”.
“We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time even if they would never say those things,” the Obama in the video says.
However, it’s of course not Obama at all, but rather the actor Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele fame) providing the voice. Obama’s face, meanwhile, has been merged with the lips of Peele by a tool known as FakeApp.
BuzzFeed noted that it took 56 hours to produce the video with the help of a video effects professional, so it is not quite in the hands of everyone just yet. But they noted that it is likely to get easier and cheaper in the future.
“[T]he good news is it still requires a decent amount of skill, processing power, and time to create a really good ‘deepfake,’” they said.
“The bad news is that the lesson of computers and technology is this stuff will get easier, cheaper, and more ubiquitous faster than you would expect – or be ready for.”
DeepFake videos have come to the fore lately, notably at the end of 2017 when porn videos with celebrities started popping up on the Internet. And earlier this year, experts warned that DeepFakes could be used to influence politics in the future.
"The idea that someone could put another person's face on an individual's body, that would be like a home run for anyone who wants to interfere in a political process," Virginia Senator Mark Warner told CBS.
"This is now going to be the new reality, surely by 2020, but potentially as early as this year."
And this Obama video highlights that, while the technology is still fairly complex, it is getting both easier and better. Remember that if something you watch seems unbelievable, well, it just might be.