Real Talk on Fake People

Avneesh Chandra

Avneesh Chandra

Avneesh Chandra is a graduate student in International Public Affairs, and enjoys tennis, policy, and movies.

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37 Responses

  1. Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

    I kid you not I literally woke up two hours ago feeling this at a subconscious level that we have the choice to partake in dumping toxic waste into the world and pollute calming waters or we can be mindful of what we say, how we say it, and realize those who want to anger us in drive by posts are feeding an addicted beast. Great post and I completely agree.Report

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    Uh, we’re all clear that the fake speech linked in the first sentence was not produced by a computer, right? That was part of the joke.Report

  3. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    Yes, this will be a real problem.
    No, we’re not sure how we’ll deal with it.
    No, trust isn’t the answer… it will make things worse… this is basically trust betraying tech.
    I’m not sure what kicks off the Butlerian jihad, but we’re experimenting with possible causes.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Here’s a canary in a coal mine for you: Look for groups clamoring for AI’s to be categorized as “White Males” or extensions thereof.

    If this doesn’t happen, no problem.
    If this does happen, holy cow, we’re on the brink of something.Report

  5. Avatar Pinky says:

    How is it a violation of a person’s privacy to create a fake video of him? It’s reprehensible, and I can feel in my gut that it’s an offense against that person, but I can’t articulate a reason why.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      Yeah, it seems more akin to slander or libel to me.Report

    • Avneesh Chandra Avneesh Chandra says:

      I’m of course not a legal scholar, but the way I see it, your face and your likeness is intrinsically part of you. The kind of deepfakes that were out there were mainly pornographic, and sex is for most people a private thing. To mix those two things to me really feels like a violation – though, like you, I can’t exactly articulate why!Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        Well, slander/libel would be saying somebody did something like porn when in fact they had not done so. It’s basically a lie that damages that person. This is the same thing but with faked video/audio.Report

        • Avneesh Chandra Avneesh Chandra says:

          True – could someone insulate themselves from that charge by making tacking on a cursory note about how the content they created was fake, even if it then propagated over the internet without that context?Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      and I can feel in my gut that it’s an offense against that person, but I can’t articulate a reason why.

      “The right of the people to be secure in their persons.”Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      There also seems to me an issue in copyright law and fair use. No one seems to be getting terribly upset about using the likenesses of celebrities, at least if it’s obviously meant as a parody. The intent seems relevant.Report

      • Avneesh Chandra Avneesh Chandra says:

        I believe there was also a smaller strain of “revenge porn”, where people were creating these with pictures of their exes or people they knew in real life.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The “deep fakes” thing quickly ran into problems because it’s one thing to make a video of putting Nic Cage into a Superman movie…

          Quite another to put your favorite actress’s face onto your favorite pr0n star’s body.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          (serious) I would guess that if realistic but fake revenge pron became a thing, then a lot of people would be able to claim that authentic embarrassing videos were really fakes. It might be a relief.

          (silly) Maybe Nicolas Cage died 20 years ago, and some psycho has been cutting and pasting him into increasingly crazy movies.Report

          • Avneesh Chandra Avneesh Chandra says:

            (serious) This is probably true, and maybe a minor upside?

            (slly) I refuse to believe that National Treasure is not Nic Cage at his truest.Report

          • Avatar Pinky says:

            One does not look directly into Nic Cage at his truest. It is best viewed through a hole in a piece of cardboard, like an eclipse.Report

    • Avatar veronica d says:

      I can feel in my gut that it’s an offense against that person, but I can’t articulate a reason why.

      It’s obviously wrong to fake someone’s image, for the simple reason that this will mislead people into thinking person X did Y, when in fact they did not. It’s dishonest, disrespectful, and undermines a person’s dignity.

      “Face” is a real thing, which might be defined as social personhood. To attack a person’s “face” is to attack them in a fundamental way, inasmuch as we are social animals and our role in a community is a critical part of our life. To attack a person’s “face” is always an aggressive act. These “deep fakes” are a particularly egregious attack on “face.”Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Many states have torts analogous to California’s Midler tort. Arises out of a case in which an auto company hired a Midler “sound-alike” to do a commercial. Same thing happened in Waits v. Frito-Lay: that was not actually Tom Waits singing about potato chips. I’ve handled cases involving these rights myself.

        It goes further in European and some Asian countries whose law involves a doctrine called “moral right” which extends control of how a piece of art can be used even farther than US copyright law.

        My main woman @veronica-d has the core argument of it above: one’s image is an extension of one’s identity, of one’s self. If my image and voice were appropriated and altered, without my consent, to advocate the consumption of Coors Light, the voting-for of Donald Trump, or abandoning one’s grocery cart in the middle of the parking lot, I would feel as though I had been violated, trespassed upon, STOLEN FROM. Mutatis mutandis for you and your own deeply-felt convictions.Report

    • Avatar fillyjonk says:

      I feel the same way: I can’t make a convincing legal argument (I am not a lawyer, though, the closest I get to law is teaching about environmental regulation) but it is something that on a very, very deep level repulses me, the thought that someone could (for example) take my sister in law’s face and use it to make a porno or something.

      “Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
      ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
      But he that filches from me my good name
      Robs me of that which not enriches him,
      And makes me poor indeed.”

      Though I guess some of the deepfakes do in some way enrich their dastardly perpetrator…It does seem akin to slander or libel.Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Remember when you first saw CGI? 30 feet away and on the 20-foot screen, it was awesome. Now, at home, it looks cheap and tawdry. Is this because you are better at spotting it, or the skill of the average practitioner is not very good? This is how I see the level of deep fakes ending up. We will become better at spotting it, while at the same time less credulous of everything we see.Report

    • Avneesh Chandra Avneesh Chandra says:

      Exactly! That’s a great point, and the last thing you said is exactly what makes me nervous. Getting to the point where we become immediately skeptical of whatever we see and hear (though at some level that’s probably wise) could be crippling for aspects of our lives that require a certain level of societal trust and good faith.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The evolution of video games has similar.

      The earliest upright video games I remember are Space Invaders and Asteroids. I couldn’t believe that we could make machines do this sort of thing.

      And *THEN* we had games with color! Centipede! Pac-Man! Galaga!

      And buttons! Defender! Stargate! STREET FIGHTER!!!!

      And with each new generation of video games, we couldn’t believe how awesome the graphics were.

      Now we’ve got Red Dead Redemption 2. Spider-Man.

      And it’s hard to believe that, in a mere decade, we’ll see these games as “pretty but the graphics are really dated.”Report

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        Remember Dragon Slayer from the ’80s? I think that was what it was called… At the time it was nice graphically, but playing it was super chunky.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Going back and trying to replay stuff like Bard’s Tale or the original Tomb Raider is always an interesting experience.

          “I can’t believe I spent hours playing this, entranced! It’s downright unplayable now!”Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            And I think this is how the whole thing will play out. If it is your bag, say the Pr0n thing you mention or Trump/AOC bloviating, then you are motivated to believe it. If those aren’t your thing, then spotting it will be much easier. For the same reason I wasn’t entranced by Dragon Slayer, but my friend Mark was.

            But, maybe I am being to Pipi Longstockingish here.Report

  7. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    Technological advance trips me out. An episode of ST TOS had Spock doctoring video like this. The assumption was that you would need ST level computing tech and a Vulcan computer specialist to pull it off.Report

    • Avneesh Chandra Avneesh Chandra says:

      Yes – and that assumption being shortcircuited here is what’s chilling, right? Imagine the same effect, but with widely available tech that requires little to no specialized training to pull off. (Also, the sheer number of things Star Trek was ahead of the curve on…)Report

  8. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    “The likeliest outcome in the years ahead is not one where fact becomes indistinguishable from fiction and where the ordinary person cannot tell real from not, but one where the idea of what is true and what isn’t is made irrelevant, and the ordinary person simply ceases to care.”

    In other words, soon we will be living in a Philip K. Dick novel.Report

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