Shoebat.com has warned about the rise of “deep fake” pornography, which is essentially using artificial intelligence programs to actively edit videos so to give the impression that a person in a porn film is somebody else. The threat about this is not the pornography, but the fact that it is being used to legitimize what is the editing of one of the most long-established forms of evidence in a court case- that of video -and to render it either ineffective or even more dangerously, to have the ability to fabricate evidence. Cheap sex is not relevant- it is relevant if the same technology is used to give the impression that a person is involved with terrorism, drugs, or another crime but actually is not in order to have him “legally” prosecuted. It is the nascent form of a dystopian nightmare that has the potential to make the world of the KGB and Stasi look like a joke.
Shoebat.com predicted that because of the above reasoning, the technology would become a global trend, and to our concern, it has become one and continues to grow in popularity according to a report:
Pornography online attracts millions of erotica-hungry people ready to see sex on-demand. You can simply ask your phone to show you anything you desire and there it is: any time, any place.
With the advent of deepfake porn, the possibilities have expanded even further, with people who have never starred in adult films looking as though they’re doing sexual acts on camera. Experts have warned that these videos enable all sorts of bad things to happen, from paedophilia to fabricated revenge porn.
What are deepfakes? Deepfakes are videos and images that use deep learning AI to forge something not actually there. This can be done to make a fake speech to misrepresent a politician’s views, or to create porn videos featuring people who did not star in them.
They’re made in two ways. Using a generative adversarial network – or GAN. This is a type of AI that has two parts; one which creates the fake images, and one that works out how realistic it is, learning from its past mistakes Autoencoders are another way to create deepfakes.
These are neural networks that can learn all the features of a given image then decode those features so they can change the image These methods vary in efficacy and quality, with GANs giving less blurry results but being trickier to train.
Samsung recently created an AI that was able to make deepfake videos using single images, including the Mona Lisa and the Girl With A Pearl Earring.
We saw these iconic paintings smiling, talking, and looking completely alive. In recent weeks, there has been an explosion of face swapping content, with Snapchat and FaceApp (among others) releasing realistic filters that allowed you to see your looks as the opposite gender, as well as previous ageing filters going viral once more.
For all the fun, however, is a darker side to using AI to create deepfakes. A number of celebrities have had their faces superimposed onto pornographic videos, with the likes of Selena Gomez, Emma Watson, Scarlett Johansson, and Jennie from girl group Blackpink falling victim.
Deepfakes of Donald Trump and Barack Obama have been made and there are concerns that they could be used to undermine democracy as well as people’s personal privacy. DARPA in the US has spent millions on ‘media forensics’ to thwart these videos, working with academics across the world to detect what’s real and otherwise.
But, according to Hany Farid, a Dartmouth College computer-science professor who advises a similar forensic fake-spotter service called Truepic, specialists working to build these systems are ‘still totally outgunned’.
In the UK, there is no specific legislation against deepfakes (but those distributing videos can be charged with harassment), bringing calls for more stringent laws on altered images.
In principle, it makes sense that someone could claim that their likeness was used with malicious intent, and this could be tried as defamation or under a false light tort in the US.
Cases could also be brought under revenge porn laws, or as identity theft or cyber-stalking.
‘In the US, the legal options are small but potent if (big if) one has the funds to hire an attorney and one can find the creator,’ Danielle Citron, professor at the University of Maryland, tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress are potential claims.’
Professor Clare McGlynn, from Durham Law School, Durham University, says that the ambiguity here in the UK in using terms like fakeporn, revenge porn, and harassment can leave victims without recourse.
‘There is no one law that covers the making of fakeporn without consent,’ Professor McGlynn says. ‘In some situations, it will be possible to bring a civil action for damages as it may be a breach of privacy or defamatory… ‘The problem is that these laws are not well-known, to either police or victims, and don’t cover all situations of fakeporn; and bringing a civil action can be expensive.
‘One of the many problems with the term “revenge porn” is that it only refers to the sharing/distribution of sexual images. Fakeporn is about images being created without consent.’ Google added ‘involuntary synthetic pornography’ to its ban list recently, meaning anyone can request that deepfake images of themselves are removed from the search engine.
Whether the perpetrators will be able to be found, given the secrecy of the dark web and lengths people go to remain online, remains to be seen. The legalities of it are just one end of the problem. The personal ramifications of deepfake porn can be catastrophic.
Indian journalist Rana Ayyub was targeted in a deepfake porn plot last year, which she said left her throwing up and crying and was a method to ‘silence’ her.
Scarlett Johansson stated in the Washington Post that, while the videos of her were ‘demeaning’, ‘this doesn’t affect [her] as much because people assume it’s not actually [her] in a porno’.
Non-celebrities won’t have the same cachet and money to fight back. What would you do if a realistic-looking porn video of you was sent to your family or workplace? The extent that revenge porn already ruins lives is no secret, so when any act can be simulated to look as if you’re involved (and powers that be are unable to verify or disprove it), how do you protect your reputation? There is no way to fully protect against deepfakes being made against you.
‘If one has shared [any] photos then the risk is there,’ Prof Citron says but the technology at present means it’s difficult to make realistic videos of ‘normal’ people.
It’s not to say it won’t happen, but most accessible tech now needs a whole lot of footage to learn from and a few Facebook videos and Boomerangs on Instagram just won’t cut it.
Professor McGlynn believes that we need to take action in the meantime to ensure this problem is minimised once the tech is more readily available: ‘We need to recognise that the harms of having fakeporn made and shared are just as great as ‘real’ images.
‘Unless action is taken, perpetrators will be able to act with impunity – simply creating fakeporn, rather than ‘real’ images.’
She recommends a ‘comprehensive law that covers all forms of image-based sexual abuse’ similar to that in Scotland (which already covers image altering), saying: ‘Such a law can help to future-proof against new ways of using technology to harm and harass.’
Reddit already banned the deepfake subreddit from their site but still have a safe for work forum available for people to share work that stays within the law. On other messageboard sites, it is not hard to find high quality fake videos of a number of people (including game characters).
At present, although web giants like Reddit and Google are trying to control deepfake proliferation, the technology is moving faster than they ever can. While web users may enjoy swapping faces with their favourite singer or seeing Vladimir Putin do a dance in a deepfake video, the potential is much darker.
When that becomes privacy breaches, blurred lines between reality and lies, and ruined reputations (which the likes of Rana Ayyub, or 24-year-old deepfake revenge porn victim Noelle Martin may argue it already has), it will be up to governments and tech companies to catch up with the fast-moving technology as quickly as they can. (source, source)
The future is not 1984, but a Brave New World, and as with all dystopic scenarios, it is a nightmare in progress.