We write a lot about deepfakes here at Pajiba.
Well. To put it more accurately, I write a lot about deepfakes here. The others occasionally post about them when they find the rapidly evolving video manipulation technique being used for something interesting or funny. Me, I’m a little bit obsessed with the stuff, and I post it accordingly. I’m obsessed with it partly for the entertainment value, but mostly because watching the technology develop is like observing a mad scientist gradually and iteratively cobble together a final working version of a death ray. We know this deepfake sh*t is gonna be the new battleground in the coming information wars. It’s just grimly fun to watch it being built. Interestingly, the information wars may already be here, as this Reuters article about a likely Israeli deepfake smear campaign that reportedly used an artifically created journalist called ‘Oliver Taylor’ to discredit a Palestinian rights campaigner outlines:
The Taylor persona is a rare in-the-wild example of a phenomenon that has emerged as a key anxiety of the digital age: The marriage of deepfakes and disinformation.
The threat is drawing increasing concern in Washington and Silicon Valley. Last year House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff warned that computer-generated video could “turn a world leader into a ventriloquist’s dummy.” Last month Facebook announced the conclusion of its Deepfake Detection Challenge - a competition intended to help researchers automatically identify falsified footage. Last week online publication The Daily Beast revealed a network of deepfake journalists - part of a larger group of bogus personas seeding propaganda online.
Microsoft too has now announced the launch of some deepfake detection tech ahead of the US Presidential election—perhaps the global event more likely to attract deepfake campaigns than any other.
Anyway that’s all very grimdark stuff that I’m sure the benevolent eggheads in Silicon Valley will sort out in good time so as to help humankind advance into a better future! What I wanted to post here today instead was much lighter. A deepfake sequel, of sorts! A while back Mike posted a clip of Harrison Ford deepfaked over the trying-his-best Alden Ehrenheich in the cynically pointless Han Solo origin story Solo. It was very interesting, in as much as it re-inserted one of the most iconic stars into one of his most iconic roles—a role which should never have been given to anyone else—but it was also quite scary—in that it gave a glimpse into the inevitable future in which the big studios end up sidestepping real life actors and all their pesky human and employment rights and just use computer technology to do what they need to do (for another glimpse, look no futher than the current de-aging tech that’s currently all the rage in big releases).
Oops! That got grimdark again didn’t it? My bad! Here’s Harrison Ford in Solo again, this time even more impressively:
Image sources (in order of posting): YouTube, Disney