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Researchers Have Figured Out How To Fake News Video With AI (qz.com) 87

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: A team of computer scientists at the University of Washington have used artificial intelligence to render visually convincing videos of Barack Obama saying things he's said before, but in a totally new context. In a paper published this month, the researchers explained their methodology: Using a neural network trained on 17 hours of footage of the former U.S. president's weekly addresses, they were able to generate mouth shapes from arbitrary audio clips of Obama's voice. The shapes were then textured to photorealistic quality and overlaid onto Obama's face in a different "target" video. Finally, the researchers retimed the target video to move Obama's body naturally to the rhythm of the new audio track. In their paper, the researchers pointed to several practical applications of being able to generate high quality video from audio, including helping hearing-impaired people lip-read audio during a phone call or creating realistic digital characters in the film and gaming industries. But the more disturbing consequence of such a technology is its potential to proliferate video-based fake news. Though the researchers used only real audio for the study, they were able to skip and reorder Obama's sentences seamlessly and even use audio from an Obama impersonator to achieve near-perfect results. The rapid advancement of voice-synthesis software also provides easy, off-the-shelf solutions for compelling, falsified audio. You can view the demo here: "Synthesizing Obama: Learning Lib Sync from Audio"
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Researchers Have Figured Out How To Fake News Video With AI

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  • Call me when they can get the A.I. to reliably produce real news broadcasts.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @09:15PM (#54843597)
    slide guitar
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @09:23PM (#54843637)

    But when I watched the video, I kept seeing places where the lip/mouth movements did not jibe with what was being said. As is, it's not going to convince anyone who's paying attention.

    Of course, nowadays almost everyone is staring at their cell phone most of the time... so perhaps the bar is lower than I expect.

    • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @09:29PM (#54843653)
      and that's the point. There's millions of folks out there itching for an excuse to do what they already want to do. Fake news doesn't work on people thinking critically, but you're not after those.
      • by sound+vision ( 884283 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @10:12PM (#54843827) Journal
        It's likely this kind of video manipulation can be done better. When someone does do it better, we might not hear about it from "researchers" but see the videos begin to appear in the wild.
      • Fake news doesn't work on people thinking critically, but you're not after those.

        Valid point.

      • Fake news doesn't work on people thinking critically, but you're not after those.

        Not true in the least. Remember when Dateline used model rocket boosters to blow up the gas tanks on pickup trucks? You know their target audience for that show at the time was 30-45 college educated or higher. Fake news works well on anyone who's ideologically deep in a rabbit hole and wants to engage in confirmation bias.

        Let's look at two cases over the last 3 years: Gamergate, where the FBI could find no incidences of harassment [fbi.gov] from anyone tied to it. Demographics [medium.com] educated at college level or higher, married, has family, has high disposable income, roughly 15% are female, has a significant minority quotient from all over the world to boot and aligns politically left. But the media continues on with the lie that they're harassers who pump out death threats, are worse then isis, and then scrub away those women and minorities because they don't fit the narrative(that is if the anti-gg people simply don't call them house n*iggers, or uncle toms). The media view of the people in Gamergate are: single, white, males who live in their parents basement or are virgins living alone. Nice fabrications huh?

        Or you can take a look at the "Trump-Russia-Collusion" story. Which has evolved from "Russia colluded with Trump" to "his son talked with a lawyer who's visa expired that the Obama administration specifically let back in at the behest of Susan Rice" along with "Putin talked with Trump during dinner." But the entire thing has fallen apart to the point where pundits outside of the main of the party are saying "shut-up, this is hurting us more then helping." If the media has one narrative, it's very easy to see from the outside. But it sure is self-reinforcing if you're in that rabbit hole.

        • you've already stopped thinking critically...
          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            you've already stopped thinking critically...

            Sentence unclear. Contains supposition only, contains no argument. I sure hope you're not a programmer by trade.

    • I kept seeing places where the lip/mouth movements did not jibe with what was being said.

      If you can see the difference, a GAN can also see it ... and correct it. This is the first demo. The tech to will improve rapidly, especially since the demand for fake news is high.

      • especially since the demand for fake news is high.

        I'm not sure they aimed at producing fake news. Otherwise they would not have designed the tool to require a voice impressionist [youtu.be].

    • out of context.

      with a rendered bobblehead? why the fuck would you need that.

      just take them out of context and boom, there you have it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I remember when something similar happened a few years ago when it came to changing the video/voice on pre-recorded media. What I fear, is a 1984 situation where people in power change what context to suit their agenda. What happened, won't necessarily be what happened.

    • They can easily fool 33% of the nation with flat out lying why do they need to fake anything. Trump Jr can admit a meeting happened, release evidence and still have 1/3 believe it never happened! Trump really could shoot somebody out in the street on TV and not do any worse in the polls.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There's a lot of progress I see, but watching the video, the artificial bit still looks a bit creepy and weird. We're not out of the uncanny valley for this sort of thing yet.

  • Trump (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Great, now we can make a video of our current president saying some crazy shit ... oh wait.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It looks like dog shit. Superdelux on YouTube does a better job.

  • Pretty soon somebody's gonna get framed and end up on a deadly game show, and not that rip-off version with the whiney kids.

  • https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=... [youtube.com]

    Just a more polished version.

  • Oh yeah, Obama is definitely the one I'd be using the software on first. Definitely not the "grab her by the pussy" speech, no way.

  • Lipreader says no. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mykro76 ( 1137341 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @10:20PM (#54843869)
    I'm deaf and have been lipreading for more than 40 years. I can confirm these videos are not lip-readable - many words are only half formed (one syllable where there should be two) and the mouth transitions are too jerky. It's a good attempt and I'm positive the tech will just keep getting better, but right now, it's not there yet.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Chances are it's more than good enough to feed the typical viewer, who will be very quick to "inform" you that not only is lip-reading inaccurate but that you're just a crackpot trying to make shit up to feel better about being crippled.

      Then they'll remind you that Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia and that you'd know this if you could understand news.

    • Autist says no. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 20, 2017 @03:11AM (#54844553)

      Being on the autism spectrum, I have a tendency to focus on peoples' mouths when they speak. I would characterize the quality of the generated content as abysmal.

      One of the major giveaways is that phonemes which involve the lips interacting with teeth are way off. Just not even close. The word "visited" looks for all the world like what's being said is "dizited". How can they generate a 'd' motion for a 'v' sound and still have the balls to publish their paper, let alone make any sort of claims that it's believable? It's absolutely galling, precisely because it's only accurate enough to fool people who want to be fooled, leaving those of us who know better shouting weakly from the proverbial back of the room.

      • by nazrhyn ( 906126 )
        "Galling" might be a bit strong; this is definitely an incremental improvement over some previous techniques. You're also making a soft implication ascribing nefarious intent to this research that I'm not sure is reasonable.
    • Foreigners says no. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Zaatxe ( 939368 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @04:16AM (#54844711)
      I grew up in a country where most foreign shows and movies are shown dubbed on TV. The result videos look exactly like a dubbed movie to me. My brain automatically says "this is not the original audio from this footage" when watching this.
    • I'm deaf and have been lipreading for more than 40 years. I can confirm these videos are not lip-readable - many words are only half formed (one syllable where there should be two) and the mouth transitions are too jerky. It's a good attempt and I'm positive the tech will just keep getting better, but right now, it's not there yet.

      The scary part is that the 'yet' is probably only a couple of years away. Then imagine a world where anyone can create their own production of any person saying anything they like.

  • by FrankHaynes ( 467244 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @11:09PM (#54844069)

    I've seen recent news broadcasts and the only thing that would mimic them successfully would be Artificial Stupidity.

  • by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Wednesday July 19, 2017 @11:32PM (#54844115)

    A long time ago, news was spoken, and you decided to believe, or not to believe, the person telling the tale.

    A while ago, news was written, and you decided to believe, or not to believe, the author writing it.

    Somewhere along the way, more and more people began to presume that everything is true -- maybe because most of it was, or maybe because they were just that stupid.

    Congrats! Those times are over.

    Now, once again, you get to spend more time evaluating the source than the content. Enjoy!

    • A long time ago, news was spoken, and you decided to believe, or not to believe, the person telling the tale.

      A while ago, news was written, and you decided to believe, or not to believe, the author writing it.

      Somewhere along the way, more and more people began to presume that everything is true -- maybe because most of it was, or maybe because they were just that stupid.

      Congrats! Those times are over.

      Now, once again, you get to spend more time evaluating the source than the content. Enjoy!

      I think you have that wrong. A long time a go there was a cost to distributing information, so only a few could do it, and those people sent consistent messages (rightly or wrongly). Over time the information source was mostly reliable so trust was developed. Now information is free to create, distribute and imitate, and the messages are inconsistent and unreliable. This creates a situation where no information can be trusted. Not even smart people will have the means to validate the information since the v

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      A long time ago, news was spoken, and you decided to believe, or not to believe, the person telling the tale.

      There are some news sources that are still written in a way to present facts, rather than opinions and allow the reader to make up their own mind.

      These are often derided as "biased lefty propaganda" by those who are used to the Fox News style of "pissing on your back and telling you its raining" presenting opinions rather than facts.

  • Instead of investing time on this, just go to reddit / 4chan and wait a few minutes. This whole "fake news" debacle is really just the same old trolls with new outfits.

  • When using software and mainly when being in internet, convincingly faking anything is very difficult or even impossible. Simply because there are usually many ways to reliably confirm any issue. The most curious bit is that the most afraid-to-be-tricked (= the most ignorant individuals) are the ones making the smallest effort to avoid such an outcome. People falling for fake anything in internet are usually the ones blindly trusting in the first thing appearing in front of their faces; behaviours which see
  • https://qz.com/654669/nothing-... [qz.com]

    A research team has created software that allows them to control the face of anyone in any video. Using advanced facial recognition, it looks at about 15 seconds of any face in a video and creates a 3D model of that face in real time.

  • The predictions are here!
  • Full-parliament renders from Generation P coming to countries of your choice soon
  • by Aristos Mazer ( 181252 ) on Thursday July 20, 2017 @09:28AM (#54845721)
    Sci-fi author Ian Banks had this problem in his futuristic The Culture novels. His solution: have repositories of record scattered everywhere that any recording device would upload to in real time. The repository would cryptographically sign the recording then download it back to the recording device. That provided both the sequence ordering and verifiability for the recordings at any future date. Banks wrote that before the arrival of block chain tech. The crowdsourced signing ability of the block chain is being used for things far beyond digital currency already. Seems like we need recording devices that can add hashes of their recordings to the block chain so that there is a record of where and when a given video was shot that cannot be falsified or denied. If we get to the point where most commercial recorders are using that service, we could once again have verifiable news. Seem viable?
  • How can we have free will when our world is artificially shaped to manipulate us?
    There is something to be said for the time when we had to dwell in caves.

  • one of the researchers was a native English speaker.

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