When seeing is no longer believing
Inside the Pentagon’s race against deepfake videos
Advances in artificial intelligence could soon make creating convincing fake audio and video – known as “deepfakes” – relatively easy. Making a person appear to say or do something they did not has the potential to take the war of disinformation to a whole new level. Scroll down for more on deepfakes and what the US government is doing to combat them.
What is a deepfake, explained
Take the quiz: Can you spot the deepfake?
Below are four pairs of videos; in each pair, one of the videos is a deepfake. Click on the video that you believe has been manipulated.
See how deepfakes are different. Computers, not humans, do the hard work
Now deepfake technology is on the US government's radar
The Pentagon, through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is working with several of the country’s biggest research institutions to get ahead of deepfakes.
But in order to learn how to spot deepfakes, you first have to make them. That takes place at the University of Colorado in Denver, where researchers working on DARPA’s program are trying to create convincing deepfake videos. These will later be used by other researchers who are developing technology to detect what’s real and what’s fake.
How are they made?
Spotting a deepfake
A thousand miles west of Denver a team at SRI International in Menlo Park, California is developing the crucial second component to DARPA’s program: technology to spot a deepfake.
How are they detected?
By feeding computers examples of real videos as well as deepfake videos, these researchers are training computers to detect deepfake videos.
What about fake audio?
Training computers to recognize visual inconsistencies is one way researchers at SRI are working to detect deepfakes. They’re also focusing on fake audio.
What if we can dismiss real events as fake?
The emergence of deepfake technology has prompted members of the U.S. Congress to request a formal report from the Director of National Intelligence. Senator Marco Rubio worries about the global fallout after a convincing deepfake goes viral before it’s detected.