Opinions

Seeing is no longer believing

Advancements in technology have continued to improve over the years, making our lives easier. But some of the innovations have become more of a hardship than a help.

Possibly the newest innovations to have surfaced in mainstream media are deepfakes. Deepfakes is a term alter a video or images to allow an individual to have a different face or voice. This technology is dangerous and has the potential to harm an individual’s personal image.

Deepfakes are one of the most dangerous technological innovations that have been created thus far. With this new technology, information can be spread faster and others will believe the video is true before it can get confirmed.  

In January, YouTuber Shane Dawson created two videos discussing deepfakes and conspiracy theories. In these videos, Dawson brings to light various issues, including individuals’ concerns with deepfakes, like how they could cause war or ruin people’s lives.

Though deepfakes can be seen as something humorous and entertaining to some, they can be used to mislead others into believing these images or videos are true.

Noelle Martin, an activist and law reform campaigner, did a TED Talk explaining how she was affected by deepfakes and harmed her reputation. Martin was 17 years old when she reverse searched herself and found dozens of sexual photos using her face. And she’s not alone; Raquel Roper is an adult entertainer whose videos were used without her consent to create deepfakes of her body with Selena Gomez’s face.

Stealing someone’s artistic work to benefit yourself without giving credit to the original behavior is disastrous. Even if the work is used for the same purpose, the creator loses profit from something they put the effort into making.   

While deepfakes has ruined lives, it can help society too. Supasorn Suwajanakorn, a lecturer for a university in Thailand, brought up in a TED Talk various interesting points about how deepfakes can benefit society.

The use of deepfakes can help bring back to “life” various intellectuals who have already died to teach in the classroom settings again, such as Jaime Escalante, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. This form of deepfake can use both facial and vocal features of the person they are copying, allowing individuals to use old recordings from when they were alive to give lectures.  

Instead of sitting in a dry lecture, Einstein can explain his theory of relativity with passion giving you a better understanding of what exactly his theory was. By using deepfakes for this reason, they could possibly allow students and professors to spend more time in areas where clarification is needed.  

Apart from using this for historical figures, it could also be used to recreate loved ones that you miss. The programming would allow artificial intelligence to learn the individuals manners, style and speech so that you can talk to and see them again.  

These benefits of deepfakes make me hopeful for society, but I always end up imagining the consequences they can bring.  

Being able to use this program to benefit society may seem like a good idea, but deepfakes can still have a lot of negative effects. This can cause chaos, especially if the face or voice of a prominent and public figure is used to say malicious things.

One example of deepfakes is a video starring Jordan Peele made by Buzzfeed where he impersonates former president Barack Obama. When you see this video for the first time, it’s hard to determine whether or not the video is fake. Peele sounded exactly like Obama until he started saying some questionable things, planting doubt among the listeners. In the wrong hands, this can cause a war or make it harder to determine what is “fake news.”

No one’s voice or face is safe in this age of ever-improving technology where everything is open to anyone who wants it. False information can spread like wildfire and allow others to continue to believe false information. Imagine if the video made by Buzzfeed and Peele was more than just a public service announcement. The problems that could have stemmed from it would be colossal.

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