Deepfakes Use AI to Create Highly Realistic-Looking Fake Images of People- Experts Warn of Russian's Past Deepfake Use

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) can "now be used to make images and videos that are fake that look hyper-realistic." Deepfakes involve "pioneering technology," which is "used to synthetically alter audio and video to create fake images that appear highly realistic." [i]
Image of woman made using StyleGAN. The person in this photo does not exist, but is created by AI.Owlsmcgee/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

New techniques now "allow unskilled people to make deepfakes with a handful of photos, fake videos are likely to spread." Furthermore, "deepfake technology can create convincing but entirely fictional photos from scratch." The video below shows several examples of celebrity deepfakes. [ii]

Now, it is alleged that Russia is manipulating videos. For example, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was featured in a deepfake that purports to show him telling soldiers to surrender and give up their arms. The video below further details the deepfake and how it was determined to be an altered video. [iii]

In another instance, Russia was found to have used a deepfake of Bruce Willis in a Russian advertisement. The video below details how the deepfake was created with Deepcake, which utilized an artificial neural network to impose Bruce Willis' image over that of another actor.

Although government officials are unsure who created the deepfake of the Ukrainian president, many viewers could spot that the video was fake quickly. Many telltale signs included the accent "was off," and "his head and voice did not appear authentic upon close inspection." Platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter removed the video for policy violation. [iv]

Even though this particular deepfake was poorly executed and unsophisticated, according to researchers, it can still spread in parts of the world where lower-quality video versions make it more difficult to discern from an actual video. This could cause the video to "take on a life of [its] own." The difficulty in spotting deepfake videos is further discussed in the video below. [v]


[i] Ian Sample, AI-generated fake videos are becoming more common (and convincing), (Jan. 13, 2020)

[ii] Id.

[iii] Bobby Allyn, Deepfake video of Zelenskyy could be 'tip of the iceberg' in info war, experts warn, (Mar. 16, 2022)

[iv] Id.

[v] Id.

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Currently pursuing a Juris Doctor at Western State, writer Charnell Gilchrist is writing her way through law school.

Aliso Viejo, CA

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