Defense Department project develops first tools to detect ‘deepfake videos’


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A Defense Department project has developed some of the first tools able to detect when videos have been digitally manipulated—content often called deepfake videos.

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Deepfake videos often feature one person’s face convincingly merged with another. Other videos show one person’s face making movements and speaking words they may have never made in real life, so that, combined with audio manipulation, the result can be the likeness of former President Barack Obama saying things actually uttered by someone else in a studio.

The technology uses machine learning processes to learn the details of a person’s face. The A.I. analyzes video footage of the target person to learn as much as it can; the more footage it has to study, the more it learns. That’s why presidents and celebrities are frequently used in deepfake experiments.

It’s a technological evolution that’s alarmed many in media and government, unsurprisingly. The fear is that it could usher in a new era of fake news, one in which it would be virtually impossible to tell whether what you see on a screen is real or fake.

“This is an effort to try to get ahead of something,” said Florida senator Marco Rubio in remarks at the Heritage Foundation. “The capability to do all of this is real. It exists now. The willingness exists now. All that is missing is the execution. And we are not ready for it, not as…

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