The Future of Truth

Sam Lessin:

The Not Too Distant Future: A World Awash of Fake Video, Audio and Photos

In the last several months videos have been floating around the web showing how video and audio can be easily manipulated to make it appear that almost anyone is saying almost anything. A good recent example, from University of Washington professors, uses former President Barack Obama’s speech patterns to demonstrate one form of the technology. Another good demonstration, from Stanford last year, shows face expression-matching research.

In a sense, this isn’t new. For a long time, Hollywood studios have been creating believable fakes, bringing back deceased actors or grafting live actors onto increasingly expressive cartoon scaffoldings.

Much like weapons proliferation, however, the ability to create believable fakes isn’t too scary when it is extremely time consuming and expensive to access. It is far more dangerous, however, when the technology gets good enough that almost anyone can generate believable fake media with access to the internet, hundreds of dollars of equipment, and a few hours. That’s the direction in which we are marching.