Deepfakes – Menace on AI based Creations

Winner Of CSC October 2019 Essay Competition : Alefiya Lokhandwala


“Deep dark monsters loom in the dark,Along the pathways and Recesses that perhaps a few might embark.Evil hidden in plain sight,Hideous masks shunning the right.”

The world we live in today has witnessed drastic technological advancements, more so in the last few decades than, in perhaps, the last century. Yet the blade that still hangs on our necks is: Is our species ready for the scientific innovations that have swung by us through the millennia?

In recent years AI based applications have received a tidal wave of new upgrades and developments. Acknowledging Artificial intelligence as a whole new arena of research and education hasn’t been a picnic either. With the significant enhancement in this branch of study it has also had some negative repercussions like showing us how evil the edge of contrivance can be. One such double edged sword is popularized by the name of deepfakes.

What is Deepfake?

“Deepfake” which is originally a portmanteau of two words – deep learning and fake- is, according to Wikipedia “a technique for human image synthesis based on AI”.

To put it in simple words it is the blend of two pictures or videos, a superimposition of two different things to make the result of this fraudulent scheme seem genuine and authentic. Deepfake is generally used for sexualizing female celebrities by morphing their videos with pornographic content.

In digital terms, the simple words would be that fakeapps create an algorithm which scans a person’s face from pictures or videos and digitally overlays it on other pictures or videos, thus combining both to look like a single reliable piece of data.

From the Flames of an Old Fire?

Face swapping has been a technical fiend since we stepped in the era of Internet hence the thought of deepfakes as a child of the same technology hasn’t been unpopular. To an extent, the abstract idea of both the concepts might be the same but since AI is employed in the creation of deepfakes, it makes the matters worse.

The easy availability of apps like Face Swap booth, MSQRD, Mixbooth, and others, that give a hand to face swapping in pictures and creating selfie animations, while created with intentions of no harm, have inflicted some serious blows in the name of non-consensual sharing of personal data.

Jeopardy to the Veracious

This situation gives a rise to the moral dilemma of purposeful obfuscating of truth to deliver a convincing lie. The quick escalation of this destructive trend has led to deep issues related to the privacy of individuals. The epicenter of this storm has latched on to the female celebrities in a major way. However, celebrities in general have been affected by the whiplash of fake content, forefront of it being pornography and illicit usage of innoncent material.

The first video of the unsettlingly fake porn was made by the creator of the name ‘deepfakes’, a reddit user who uploaded the sexual video of Gal Gadot, the lead actor of wonder woman. Since then celebs have been under the radar of this malicious activity time and again.

This ‘trend’ has been alarmingly disparaging in regards to the overall development of individuals. The hindrance doesn’t just stop at the invading of deeply private data, it can further give birth to crimes like blackmail which in turn give a rise to bigger crimes like rapes, mental torture and that might further lead to death in extreme cases, primarily through a well constructed mental murder by labeling it as suicide, a vicious cycle indeed.

Apart from pornography, in an era in which the epidemic of fake news pops up major issues, such apps can circulate menacing political content. A healthy dose of ‘hallelujah’ and ‘God help us’ for the world we live in, right?

Legal Shackles for the Tyrant

The rise in the disturbingly accurate phenomenon of deepfakes has led to massive efforts for precaution, prevention and cure for it. Several apps, starting with Gfycat removed all the deepfakes from its platform. Social media sites like Twitter have also banned the usage of deepfakes. Along with it even porn surfing sites like pornhub has taken preventive measures against deepfakes. Intriguing fact that must be noted here is that though reddit started this war, it was the last platform to ban deepfakes.

Though many changes have been proposed in the privacy policy of several platforms, no official law targeted specifically for deepfakes has been passed. Of course there are laws pertaining to invasion or breach of privacy and in case of several celebrities the defamation laws might prove effective but no laws concerning deepfakes have come into effect.

Despite collective efforts of individuals and organization to the curb the malady of deepfakes, platforms supporting it still exist. As long as there are tools available for creation of deepfakes, it is never going to not be harmful. So it is high time we woke up from the lucid dream and smelled the coffee.

Public awareness is the most powerful spell to disarm the deepfakes. Private data, pictures or videos, mustn’t be shared to unknown parties and details of precautionary measures like cyber security must be made accessible to general public without any bias.

I can’t fight it alone, and neither can you. So lets bring about a change together.

Conclusion

Deepfakes have tormented the world for a few years now. So the question ‘Are they really a big issue?’ is irrelevant because we all know they are. Steps need to be taken to tackle this tilted playground.

Growth and development constitute the ebb and flow in the ocean of the world. The chief question is - Are we willing to learn to swim or will we drown?