New AI Face-Swapping Technology Can Alter Reality

July 17th, 2018


By Marissa Antkowiak, 10x Management Writer

Since its debut at Siggraph last year, an AI-powered face-swapping technology has gotten increasingly more powerful and continues to blur the line between fiction and reality.  After controversial “deep fakes” turned celebrities and private citizens into adult video stars, the newest iteration of this algorithm called Deep Video Portraits will premiere at this year’s Siggraph conference in August.

Fast Company goes into more depth to explain the Stanford team’s mind-blowing algorithm in this article. This new tech will surely have some good uses as well as some questionable ones.

The Stanford team behind the paper says that the outstanding realism in their work is “achieved by careful adversarial training, and as a result, [they] can create modified target videos that mimic the behavior of the synthetically-created input.” To get complete control of the target video, the researchers render a synthetic person entirely–as well as the background. They claim that they can perform any kind of recombination of parameters, like changing what an original person does or swapping faces entirely, “without explicitly modeling hair, body or background.” In other words, the AI takes care of everything by itself.

Their Siggraph 2018 reel feels truly indistinguishable from reality: from the subtle and natural alteration of facial expressions, to the incredible feat of achieving natural 3D movement automatically, to the fact that the subjects’ torsos now perfectly match their head movements. The software can also automatically reconstruct the background of each video, and even project a realistic shadow over against it, to fool the eye. It’s a technological feat that leaves me feeling that we’re witnessing a paradigm shift in humanity.

Indeed, as Mark Wilson wrote on Co.Design earlier this year, the end of reality feels now truly imminent. We’re on the verge of a complete reinvention of how we understand the moving image. Before, we took videotape as proof of fact–whether it showed someone committing a crime or a politician simply making a statement. Deep Video Portraits may be the penultimate step towards destroying the once-incontrovertible truth of video. Fixing this, whether with legal terms or with forensics, seems nigh on impossible. Like any other piece of software, its distribution and usage is unstoppable.

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