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Deepfakes and AI: Good and Bad, Two Sides of the Same Coin

Accepting a problem is the first step towards its resolution. Deepfakes may have been developed with non-malicious intent, but the human mind can put any tool to work in two modes: good and bad. The concerns about the misuse of deepfake technology are definitely not dumbfound as was demonstrated by the efforts of actor Jordan Peele, BuzzFeed, and Monkeypaw Productions who made a deepfake of former US President Barack Obama in which he was seen calling Donald Trump names. In reality it was just Peele, whose voice and face were switched with Obama’s. This video made using Adobe After Effects and the AI face-swapping tool, FakeApp, was intended to serve as a Public Service Announcement on the malicious use of deepfake technology.

While this was a PSA, there can be real-world implications of deepfake tech and we are not far from a time when deepfake detection technology would be used to identify and tell the synthetic videos from the real ones as a necessary step before disseminating news or taking any actions on the basis of any video content.

The Bad | Fabricated News and Deepfake Detection | Fighting disinformation

Consider this hypothetical scene: A war-crimes journalist receives videos of a political leader unleashing cruelty on prisoners of war from an anonymous person. The news is published, it goes viral, and the leader in question is condemned worldwide. A few days later, the video is declared a ‘deepfake’ and the journalists loses his or her job, and the organization he worked with, is sued for libel. To avoid such and more weaponized propagandas from being unleashed, AI with deep learning jumps to the rescue by helping distinguish the deepfake from the real.

Deepfake detection is done through visible parameters such as deepfakes in which the impersonator does not blink. But when detection becomes easier to both the human eye as well as detecting technology, deepfakes become smarter. It is a cat and mouse game in which one will always trump the other. Over time, deepfakes have become evolved and are closer mimicking the real videos making it harder to be detected. AI can now be fed to record patterns of Elton John or any celebrity’s many videos available online to detect how he speaks, how he pauses, what his facial and hand gestures are, etc. to detect what’s fake and what is real. Besides, AI teams too, help fish out other inconsistencies from one video frame to another. That said, a lot needs to be done in the field of ‘deepfake detection’ to work on low quality videos available in enormous numbers online.

In such scenarios, AI needs human intelligence support to win the fight against disinformation which will be a growing challenge in the times to come. Facebook, which has an audience worldwide at its disposal, and could be used in a malicious way to spread disinformation, set precedent as it took a huge positive step by announcing earlier in 2020 that it will ban AI modified videos from its platform. Other platforms such as Twitter and TikTok have similar policies in place too.

The Good | Deepfakes can be creative and fun too

Video editing and film-making

If you have ever been in the business of video editing, especially when a famous celebrity was involved, and no matter how much you try to salvage the video, you cannot; deepfakes will help with that clip and your video will be made uninterrupted. Earlier, movie directors would spend millions on creating the perfect location for their movies. This is now achievable with a far lesser sum using deepfake and AI. Deepfakes can be real game-changers in film-making. Imagine new movies starring Charlie Chaplin opening to full houses. This, ofcourse, after all the copyright issues are taken into consideration..

Make the dead talk | Recreational purposes

Imagine Leonardo da Vinci talking about his own artworks from a younger age at the famed Hall 15 of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. This is the kind of positive impact that deepfake tech can create when used wisely. In fact, this has been already done when St. Petersburg’s Dalí Museum implemented deepfake technology for its exhibition Dalí Lives, where a life-sized deepfake of the artist was created from his old interviews. It delivered numerous quotes which are attributed to Dalí.

Make a newsroom come alive

Deepfakes have entered the newsroom in a positive manner too. Reuters collaborated with an AI startup in making world’s first presenter-led news reports, using deepfake technology. New videos were created from old pre-recorded clips of a news presenter for doing so.

How we use deepfakes can indeed be a blessing or a curse. We decide.

Video editing and film-making

If you have ever been in the business of video editing, especially when a famous celebrity was involved, and no matter how much you try to salvage the video, you cannot; deepfakes will help with that clip and your video will be made uninterrupted. Earlier, movie directors would spend millions on creating the perfect location for their movies. This is now achievable with a far lesser sum using deepfake and AI. Deepfakes can be real game-changers in film-making. Imagine new movies starring Charlie Chaplin opening to full houses. This, ofcourse, after all the copyright issues are taken into consideration..

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wasim basir

marketing, board member

It’s most obvious in the digital media space, from click buys to personalized web experiences. For marketing, the AI journey has just kick-started, while in the tech sector it has been applied for a while now. We are still at an early stage where inroads are being made into AI content via chatbots and even some explanatory content creation but what will make anyone jump up and embrace it is when we will start seeing a lot of mainstream content being created by AI.

rich arnold

board member

Prior to joining Infinite Analytics, Richard served as the CFO of CrowdFlower, COO and CFO of Phoenix Technologies, as a member of the board of directors and chairman of the Audit Committee at Intellisync, and previously as CFO and executive vice president strategy and corporate development at Charles Schwab.

pravin gandhi

board member

Pravin Gandhi has over 50 years of entrepreneurial operational and investing experience in the IT industry in India. He was a founding partner of the first early stage fund India - INFINITY. Subsequently a founding partner in Seedfund I & II. With over 18 years of investing experience, he is extensively well networked in investment and entrepreneurial scene and is an active early stage angel investor in tech & impact space. Pravin holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Cornell University, and serves on the board of several private corporations in India. He is on the board of SINE, IIT Mumbai Incubator.

Purushotham Botla

co-founder & cto

Puru has his Masters in Engineering and Management from MIT. Prior to MIT, he worked with Fidelity Investments building electronic trading products and high volume market data processing applications. He has completed his BE from VJTI, Mumbai.

deb-roy

Deb Roy

Executive Director, MIT Media Lab

Deb Roy is Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT where he directs the MIT Center for Constructive Communication, and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. He leads research in applied machine learning and human-machine interaction with applications in designing systems for learning and constructive dialogue, and for mapping and analyzing large scale media ecosystems. Deb is also co-founder and Chair of Cortico, a nonprofit social technology company that develops and operates the Local Voices Network to surface underheard voices and bridge divides.

Roy served as Executive Director of the MIT Media Lab from 2019-2021. He was co-founder and CEO of Bluefin Labs, a media analytics company that analyzed the interactions between television and social media at scale. Bluefin was acquired by Twitter in 2013, Twitter’s largest acquisition of the time. From 2013-2017 Roy served as Twitter’s Chief Media Scientist.

Erik Brynjolfsson

Board Member

Erik Brynjolfsson is the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Professor and Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI), and Director of the Stanford Digital Economy Lab. He also is the Ralph Landau Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), Professor by Courtesy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford Department of Economics, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Akash Bhatia

Co-Founder and CEO

Akash co-founded IA while studying for his MBA from MIT. Prior to MIT Sloan, he co-founded Zoonga. Before this, Akash was an engineer with Oracle in Silicon Valley. He has completed his M.S from University of Cincinnati and B.E from the College of Engineering, Pune.