I thought online fakes would cause an infopocalypse | Alex Hern

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Turns out hoaxes and lies have always been with us. The internet just gave them a wider audience

Remember when Barack Obama called President Trump a “total and complete dipshit”? No, me neither. But if you search for it, there’s a video on YouTube where he appears to be saying just that. I used to think that “deepfakes” would change the world. These clips, created using off-the-shelf AI systems, take advantage of new capabilities to near-perfectly edit video, swapping faces, altering expressions and synthesising speech without any artistic expertise.

The technology burst into the public consciousness around Christmas 2016, when a small batch of perverts cottoned on to the possibilities of using it to insert their favourite celebrities into pornography. But others were quick to see the wider ramifications of the tech: a well-timed deepfake of, say, a world leader declaring war, or an FTSE100 chief executive openly discussing their company’s impending bankruptcy, could send shockwaves through the world’s media.

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