Scarlett Johansson Explains Deepfake
Deepfakes are digitally-fabricated images or videos created through artificial intelligence that attempt to portray another individual, whether they are celebrities, politicians or businesspeople. Although it can be difficult to differentiate a deepfake from its real-world counterpart, certain visual clues such as wrongly angled shadows or overly-smooth skin tend to reveal these forgeries quickly – however the more advanced a deepfake becomes, the harder it becomes to detect it.
Deepfake technology can be used for more serious purposes than mere jokes; for instance, making it appear that celebrities have done or said something when this is not the case can have serious repercussions for high-profile individuals who often become targets of such malicious misinformation campaigns.
Scarlett Johansson has experienced first-hand the dark side of modern celebrity. In 2011, she became the subject of an elaborate hack attack in which nude photos of her were leaked online – marking a new era for celebrity privacy breaches. After that incident, Scarlett used her celebrity status to advocate for women’s rights through movies like Girl with a Pearl Earring and Lost in Translation.
Johansson has taken an interest in the growing controversy surrounding deepfakes – images created using deepfaking technology that show celebrities engaging in inappropriate acts – which depict them. In an interview with The Washington Post she expressed her concerns over this technology as well as its challenges of protecting oneself against its abuses.
Deepfakes are created through a battle between two algorithms, each seeking to produce the most realistic replica of an image or video from reality. Each model must understand how its output works–which features of an object are important or irrelevant–in order to produce convincing fakes each time around. Over time, both algorithms get better at producing life-like fakes each time around.
As such, deepfakes have become increasingly convincing. In this video produced by the OpenFace project team, actor Tom Cruise’s face is deepfaked to appear speaking like former President Obama while his voice belongs to comedian Jordan Peele – making for an impressive result that might fool even casual observers at first.
Deepfakes can be hard to spot despite their accuracy; oftentimes there are subtle visual cues which indicate it’s not real video such as different blinking patterns from people or eyes not aligning properly. Quality also depends on the source material – the higher quality or more detailed an original image/video source material will create more authentic looking deepfakes in their final product.
Deepfakes may seem like harmless fun at first, but their use could become mainstream media soon enough. Recently, YouTuber Shamook used deepfake technology to create an image depicting Return of the Jedi-era Luke Skywalker that went viral and even caught the attention of Industrial Light and Magic (IL&M), the company that brought Star Wars alive for The Mandalorian TV show.