Deep Fakes & Facial Recognition Technology

Back when I was a competitive skydiver, we would often video tape our training jumps so we could analyze them later. That meant an additional skydiver, with a video camera attached to his helmet, would jump out with you, and record the jump.

The nickname for the camera was “The eye in the sky that cannot lie.” This came up often because skydives go by very quickly and human memory is not great, especially when people are under stress. At the end of the jump, everyone would have their own opinion of what happened and who was at fault, but you had to wait to watch the video before you really knew for sure.

With the advent of “Deep Fake” technology, video technology is no longer such a solid source of proof.

Now the camera can lie.

Look at this video of Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday”:

And then look at this version I created easily using an app on my phone called ReFace: 

OK, I don’t think there is any danger of people thinking I was in Roman Holiday or even that the video is real. But I have seen people talk about how these kinds of “deep fake” videos are going to allow people to fool biometric identification systems. 

That is just not the case. It’s interesting to me because I think biometric technology has been badly misrepresented in the media, and the end result is that we are scared of things we should not be scared of and we are ignoring some things that should be concerning. Facial recognition technology, when used in a voluntary and opt-in way, is a tremendously useful technology. It’s beginning to be deployed commercially in more and more areas and that trend is going to continue. There are a whole categories of technology that can be used for mass surveillance – tracking you without your knowledge or consent. That is what we need to be concerned about and the specific technology used to do it isn’t important. All mass surveillance should be concerning to a free society.

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