Deepfakes are fake videos created or altered with AI software that show a person saying and doing things they never said or did. Well-made deepfakes are incredible technically; the line between a good deepfake and real life is essentially indistinguishable. That also makes then approximately the scariest thing ever.
The latest example is from YouTuber Ctrl Shift Face, who edited a video of actor Bill Hader appearing on Late Night with David Letterman back in 2008. During Hader's appearance on the show, he tells the story of meeting Tom Cruise for the first time at a table read. As Hader impersonates Cruise in the deepfake, posted to YouTube last week, his face in the deepfake subtly morphs into Cruise's.
Later in the clip Hader impersonates actor Seth Rogen, and the same happens. Hader's story is hilarious. The video is mortifying. We will never trust again.
Ctrl Shift Face previously created a similar deepfake, this time shifting Hader's face into Arnold Schwarzenegger's. Watch it here on YouTube.
Deepfakes are essentially the video or audio equivalent of bogus images created with programs like Photoshop. Deepfake software is making it easier to manipulate video and increasingly harder to detect fakes. One technique enables people to create a deepfake using a single image, such as the Mona Lisa.
Ctrl Shift Face and other YouTubers making fun alterations to clips like Hader's talk show appearances are one thing, but it's another when the likeness of President Barack Obama and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are made into convincing deepfakes. They're already causing some fuss, with a video of Democratic politician Nancy Pelosi slowed down to make her appear drunk, already having been used to con people on social media.