Have you heard about ‘deepfakes’? It is a software program that demands intense computing resources to superimpose one person’s face on top of another person’s face. If done correctly, it can be an amazing special effect that we sometimes see in blockbuster movies.
Now, you can do deepfakes at home if you have the right software and sufficiently powerful graphic card capabilities to render the image overlays in real-time. My desktop has a powerful NVIDIA graphics card with its own RAM and can run this algorithm in real-time. However, not all computers can make the effect look real life. For example, on an Apple MacBook Pro without a graphics card, it only runs at 1 frame per second instead of the requisite 30 FPS that my high power desktop is capable of doing.
The inventor of Avatarify software says that it can render the deepfakes for insertion into the Zoom web meeting software. Can you imagine if some famous celebrity popped into your next company Zoom meeting? The software maps the celebrity’s face on top of your face and mimics your facial movements and expressions. So, it can fool others rather convincingly. Well, at least visually anyway, it is still your voice. So, if you pick the right celebrity so no one on the call actually knows their voice, you can play the ultimate prank on friends, family, and colleagues.
Who will be on your next web meeting? Tom Cruise? Brad Pitt? Albert Einstein? Steve Jobs? Or, maybe Elon Musk of Tesla fame will drop by to say, ‘Hello’?
You can now impersonate celebrities, including Elon Musk, during Zoom video sessions, thanks to some deepfake-creation software.
The programmer Ali Aliev showed off his “Avatarify” technology in a couple demos uploaded to YouTube. In one clip, he uses the software to map his facial movements on to a picture of Musk during a Zoom video call.
The deepfake technology then proceeds to animate the picture in real-time to match his own facial movements. “Looks like I got into the wrong conference,” Aliev says, pretending to be Tesla’s CEO.
Aliev was asked if he is concerned his creation could be used for no good, but he has not responded yet. In the meantime, he told Motherboard his goal with the technology is to help entertain people during the pandemic. “It just allows people to have some fun while being locked down at home,” he said.
If you want to learn more about deepfakes, here is a link to a more comprehensive article that I shared last August 2019 on this topics with more broadcast related examples.
Kan, M. (2020). Deepfaking a Celebrity on a Zoom Call is Now Possible. PC Mag Digital Goup, Ziff-Davis. LLC. Retrieved on April 21, 2020 from, https://www.pcmag.com/news/deepfaking-a-celebrity-on-a-zoom-call-is-now-possible?utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Manual&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR2HIJ0tU7sZEaWdswaJbhfWITyD-hlsnFBw27s0JgoGde333662odQ6Hyw
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.
He is a business and technology consultant. A recent contract was with Wirepas from Tampere, Finland as the Director of Business Development. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.
And with just another running program – even the voice can be manipulated to (gasp) sound like the persona in question