Rise of deepfake technology. How is it impacting society?

The growing impact of AI has changed our lives both positively and negatively. While we can save time by outsourcing our leave and other emails through ChatGPT, deepfake is more an undesirable consequence of AI than a useful one. I won’t blame AI for this, as every new iteration of the technological arsenal is a two-edged sword. Unless you live under a rock, you must have heard about deepfakes and how nicely they resemble the person whose deepfake is being created. 

If you go online, cruise down your Instagram or Facebook feed, and watch some not-so-famous creators recording professional videos, you may be watching a deep fake video. But how exactly are deep fakes impacting our society, and what can we do to counter them? I will discuss everything here. 

What are deepfakes? How are they created?

Deepfakes are a notch above superimposed images, where a person’s face is used within a pre-recorded video or picture for a specific reason. Some minor tweaks are enough to make the final art look original in a photo with a face used in an existing image.

In Deepfake videos, the face of another person used in some existing videos will resemble real human emotions and be close to exact muscle movements. All these make the footage look like the person was present before the lens.

Now you know how complicated it could be, and hence, AI comes into play. Deepfake videos are created by training AI algorithms with large data models and machine learning algorithms that aim to make the videos look more authentic. Today, many websites offer the functionality to create deep fake videos, sometimes for free, while others are paid.

Some advantages of Deepfakes

Contrary to the popular belief that deep fakes are breaking societies, here’s how deep fakes can be helpful for society, businesses, and filmmaking.

1. Entertainment purposes

Imagine you want to create an awareness video but don’t have sufficient gear to record it in real life. If the script is ready, you can use your face on a stock video and create a deep fake of yourself reading the script, and you are ready to go.

The same applies to filmmaking. A deep fake video can be created and seamlessly integrated into the final cut if an actor is not present for a specific scene. Similarly, if a particular character has a double role, a second person can be hired to cast the second role, and later, the face of the first actor can be used to create a deep fake.

While these are possible, the ethical consequences must be considered, and consent must be obtained from the parties involved.

2. Spreading awareness about social issues

Just like creating content for entertainment purposes, spreading social awareness about various topics is possible. Using deep fake videos for such purposes would be a great application of AI and deep fake videos.

3. Applications in the field of education

It is impossible to travel back in time using a time machine and make the students meet Alexander, Chhatrapati Shivaji, or other real-life characters. Thanks to deepfake videos, the historical characters can be brought to real life, and their conversations can be displayed to students, which will help them understand the subjects even better. Besides history, this can also be applied to other subjects and make the concepts more accessible for the students.

Negative impacts of Deepfakes

There’s no doubt that Deepfakes can be used for social good. Well, no technology is ever innovated for regressive purposes. However, the name Deepfake is negative, as the word fake is used. You can’t imagine something fake doing good for humankind. Could you? But how exactly Deepfakes can negatively impact society? Let’s find out.

1. Spreading fake news and misinformation

Just imagine you have a reputation in your locality. But your face is used in a campaign that goes against society, at worst, or something controversial. Your face can also be used in a political campaign against your beliefs. This will adversely impact your reputation, not just in your society but among those who follow you for specific beliefs.

Just imagine a Deepfake of a public figure created and spread on social media. This might seem like an unpopular opinion, but controversial news spreads like wildfire on social media, creating negative opinions and eroding the figure’s trust among the public. The reputation damage is not irreversible, but it might take days, months, or years to rebuild the lost confidence.

2. Damage to reputation

Spreading fake news where an individual is involved, as mentioned above, causes reputational damage to not just any celebrity or public figure. Still, the plague can be carried to individuals like you and me. A fake video of a person committing a crime or a sexually offensive video can create irreversible reputation damage. It can also attract penal consequences unless the victim is proven not guilty, as videos are considered first-hand evidence in court. 

Unlike a celebrity or a public figure, an individual may find it challenging to navigate the few ways to reverse the damage caused to their reputation. 

3. Privacy issues

It just requires one photo to create a Deepfake video as the AI algorithms are trained with plenty of real-life examples to deliver close to perfect video from that one photo. We often need to submit our photographs for multiple purposes, and we don’t have any control over how the other party treats our photos. What’s more agonizing is that we can’t do a lot to prevent such mishaps, as Deepfake-generating platforms have no way of asking for consent from the person whose video is being created as of now.

So, no doubt, the negative impacts of Deepfakes far outweigh the positive effects they can have on our society. But the subject is not as gloomy as you might think. There are ways to mitigate the risks, and I will discuss a few ways here.

Ways to mitigate the negative impacts of Deepfakes

Let’s find some ways to reduce the risks associated with deepfakes.

1. Centralized control over the distribution of tools

Creating a Deepfake video requires specialized tools that require proper training with real-life examples, as I mentioned numerous times. Hence, it is not a child’s play to develop Deepfake generation tools. The individual companies must keep a record of all the users who use the services, and while the Deepfake videos are created, some secret code can be embedded in the videos to identify the creator in case something wrong happens uniquely, or there are complaints. Trust me, this is not as difficult as you might think.

2. Use of specialized software to beat Deepfakes

Just like iron can cut iron, only AI can beat AI. Software solutions like Deepware and DeepBrain AI are some instances of the AI army fighting to keep Deepfakes at bay. It is not just individual developers trying to fight Deepfakes; tech giants like Microsoft are also developing tools to detect Deepfake videos and keep the internet clean.

Deepfake videos can also be detected with human eyes if observed closely. After all, they are created by AI, and the Deepfake detectors also try to find discrepancies in them to determine whether the videos are Fake. With time, AI will turn smarter and resemble the exact facial expressions of human beings. So, the AI tools should also be improved to win the cat-and-mouse game between creators and detectors.

Like any other innovation, Deepfake is a double-edged sword. Users must use it responsibly and prevent damage to others. Policymakers and government agencies should also take proactive steps and craft policies to prevent the misuse of Deepfake technology and declare it a heinous cybercrime.

Furthermore, courts and similar institutions should check the video’s authenticity to prevent reputation damage and ensure it is not fake. That way, the case will not be lodged in the first place, and the person behind the deep fake can be penalized.

So, that’s all that you should know about the deepfake technology. Do you have any questions? Feel free to comment on the same below.