Vegard Skjefstad

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Why Deepfake Technology Must Be Banned

On Friday, Samsung revealed that they are now able to create deepfake videos from a single photo. With that came another good reason why the technology must be banned.

Imagining seeing a politician in a viral video saying something absolutely outrageous. In today’s political landscape that shouldn’t be too hard. But in this case, it’s totally out of character for this particular opposition politician. What they are saying is incriminating, morally reprehensible, and an obvious political suicide. What the hell!? You can’t vote for this person now!

The problem with the viral video is that it isn’t real. Even though it looks authentic, it’s a fake video. It’s created by the current political leader’s campaign office, doctored to quickly spread false rumors about the opposition. And it works. They fall like a rock in the polls. Even if the video is later debunked as fake, the damage is irreversible. The video continues to spread like wildfire across the internet. It’s not only popular on niche political sites, but on main stream social media sites as well. And even if they know the video is fake, the main stream sites refuse to remove it.

If you think that this is a thing of a dystopian alternate future, I’m sorry to report that this is the present.

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1 the Road

Back in 2016, an AI wrote a movie script. Fast forward to last year, when another AI took it upon itself to write a novel, 1 the Road.

The 2016 movie, Sunspring, was written by Benjamin, a long short term memory recurrent neural network. Sunspring was somewhat confusing, but if you want to watch it, it’s available in the post I wrote about the movie. Benjamin has since retired, at least his website now belongs to a non-artificial Benjamin1.

Since AIs don’t reliably create new AIs – yet – Benjamin was the brain child of a human, Ross Goodwin. Goodwin describes himself as a “creative technologist, hacker, gonzo data scientist, and writer of writers,” who uses technology to create works of art. In 2018, he set out on another adventure. Goodwin hocked a camera, a GPS, and a microphone to a computer, placed everything in a car, and went on a road trip from New York to New Orleans.

Using input from the camera, GPS, microphone, and the computer’s internal clock, a neural network would then narrate the entire trip. A printer in the back seat printed a hard-copy of story as it progressed.

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Sunspring

Benjamin is a system-on-chip computer. He runs a long short term memory recurrent neural network. And he knows how to write screenplays. Benjamin’s creators, filmmaker Oscar Sharp and technologist Ross Goodwin, force fed him with dozens of different 1980s and 90s sci-fi screenplays they found online. Benjamin then dissected everything, and learned to predict which letters tended to follow each other and from there which words and phrases tended to occur together.

With this knowledge, Benjamin wrote Sunspring, and Oscar Sharp turned the AI’s screenplay into a movie for the annual Sci-Fi London film festival. Will artificial intelligence put Hollywood screen writers out of work anytime soon? Judge for yourself.

Personally, I think the answer is “no”. This thing is wildly incoherent, and most of it doesn’t make much sense. At least not as a sci-fi movie. As one of those artsy movies, perhaps, because Benjamin’s work is certainly open to interpretation. Or, has he created something that we humans haven’t evolved to a high enough intellectual level to fully understand?

Mind blown! Ars Technica has more details.

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