back to article Uh oh! Here's yet more AI that creates creepy fake talking heads

Machine-learning experts have built a neural network that can manipulate facial movements in videos to create fake footage – in which people appear to say something they never actually said. It could be used to create convincing yet faked announcements and confessions seemingly uttered by the rich and powerful as well as the …

  1. doublelayer Silver badge


    When will people realize that building dangerous stuff for no reason other than "I wonder whether we can" is a bad idea?

    1. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: Again?

      As Michael Faraday once said to Gladstone: Sir, there is every probability that you will soon be able to tax it!' refering to new and dangerous stuff build for no other reason than that it can be done.

      W.E.H. Lecky

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Again?

      Well, it's not as if this work had the difficulty of a hydrogen bomb program.

      On second thought, it actually has, but mainstreamed.

      Wait until everyone can buy a gene sequencer, that's gonna be phun. Not talking about nanotech assemblers, because these may or may not be possible but they are definitely far out.

      (Now, the real question is - will Poland be spooked into transferring a few more billions to US coffers for a "NATO presence" on its territory by a fake Putin head repeatedly saying "Boo" on TV?)

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Again?

        (Now, the real question is - will Poland be spooked into transferring a few more billions to US coffers for a "NATO presence" on its territory by a fake Putin head repeatedly saying "Boo" on TV?) ... Destroy All Monsters

        Is not Poland playing the diseased whore with Uncle Sam paying for tricks?

        One thing the escalated NATO presence on its territory proves is that Poland has no effective native leaders and is virtually bankrupt in more than just proprietary intellectual property?

  2. Denarius Silver badge

    a tad overblown

    Media have been editing text, audio and video for years so interviewees can appear to say anything. Or more commonly, made to appear ignorant of the noble, enlightened view of whatever bigotry was received truth of the media droids at the time. Example Malcolm Muggeridge informing the West that Stalin lead a nightmare state. Winston warmongering about Hitler. More recent examples are Bliar and Co. So the distrust grows. Now if only a cultural distrust of asocial media can only be made a general attitude among the non-technical.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: a tad overblown

      But without the press or media, who can we trust? We certainly can't trust ourselves or anyone else, as the media proves we're all too easy to fool.

    2. MrRimmerSIR!

      Re: a tad overblown

      Uncle Jo.. lovely chap. Everyone was well fed in the Soviet Union.

      Addy, salt of the earth and wouldn't say boo to a goose. Just ask Ken.

      I suppose next you'll be telling us that Bashy was just doing a bit of spring cleaning with some chlorine-based disinfectant.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like Facebook's AI attempts need some improvement...

    The ZuckerBot they sent to Congress still looks robotic, creepy and lifeless compared to the high quality shown in the video demonstration linked in this article.

    Perhaps they'll have it down for this next round of questioning?

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Looks like Facebook's AI attempts need some improvement...

      Wait for it: “Steve Jobs did not die. Unfortunately his condition is such that he must remain incommunicado (not a Mexican town btw) but he will attend next years WWDC via video link.”

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    New Greater IntelAIgent Games ForePlay @ITsWork, REST and Play

    I think it is important that the people get to know the possibilities of manipulation techniques. ..... Justus Theis, a coauthor of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher

    FFS .... which planet have you just arrived from that knows diddly squat?

    Welcome to Virtual Fight Clubs where Worlds are yours for the faking and taking and making over.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

    Mycroft is looking more and more possible...

    1. handleoclast

      Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

      One of my favourite books. The ending always makes me cry.

  6. Milton

    Power in the hands of idiots or bastards

    Some interesting comments here. I notice someone has resurrected the worry about what happens when gene-editing/-splicing becomes generally accessible. It's pertinent, because the fundamental question is "What happens when powerful tools fall into the hands of idiots or bastards?"

    I suggest we're already seeing just how damaging and chaotic this can be.

    Arguably the internet, social media specifically, has given a platform, with megaphone, to hordes of nasty, racist, misogynist, extremist shytebags and a zillion immature twits—many of them actively celebrating their ignorance and intolerance. The filter of newspapers' letters pages and mainstream TV channels has been replaced by a screaming mob. Reflection, consideration, respect for facts, rationality—it's all disappearing in a worldwide shouting match where the emptiest tins make the most noise.

    This has already done massive damage. It may even come to be seen as fatal for western democracy. Look at what happened with Brexit. Look at the cretin infesting the White House. Look at the torrent of lies emerging daily in degraded political discourse in Washington and Westminster.

    The only reason a bunch of cities have not become lakes of steaming glass since 1945 is that building a functional atomic warhead is exceedingly difficult: especially obtaining the fissile material. Else a great many loonies, terrorist and malcontents would by now have blown stuff up.

    But other technologies, in their own way equally dangerous, will not be so restrictive. Letting ignorant wingnuts nucleate in their vile little racist conclaves has already done immense damage—what would you expect to happen when people like this can start fiddling with versions of the flu virus?

    Considering this topic specifically, look at what's happened as computer malware has become prevalent, and increasingly accessible to non-specialists. We've seen huge attacks on specific companies, organisations and nation states. We've seen how quickly these things spread indiscriminately once they escape into the wild. The cost has been spectacular.

    The motivation and desire among certain groups to do horrible things is undoubtedly present. Soon they may have the ability as well as the intention.

    Who will be first to splice up a really horrid version of Ebola that targets people of a specific genetic type? China? Russia? The kind of people who believe the shit they inhale on Fox&Friends?

    Be afraid.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Power in the hands of idiots or bastards


      it's all disappearing in a worldwide shouting match where the emptiest tins make the most noise.

      Lovely rant piece - above excerpt shone out, but even without this gem, it is masterly.

      One Upvote seems hardly enough.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    experts have built a neural network that can manipulate

    and when I say "burn the boffins, once you're through with politicians, lawyers and bankers!", the bots say: hereby I sentence you to another 15 years for spreading violent and extremist views. But I didn't say: "shut down the judge-bots, nosir!" :/

  8. Crisp

    Boffins invent an astounding new technology

    And what does the internet do with it? Use it for porn.

    Thanks humanity.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Boffins invent an astounding new technology

      And what does the internet do with it? Use it for porn.

      Thanks humanity.

      The Interwet?. To be fair, it's what humanity does with any new tech they invent - I think it's necessary, sex is tied into the 'play' circuit in the adult human - and 'play' is how humans explore things when learning. As with bone and antler carving, murals, canvas and cameras. 'VHS' Videos and DVDs

      Only after the porn use stage will it get applied to something useful and productive.

      It seems rather unfair and counter productive to layer this behaviour with negative connotations per-se

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    Well, at least no-one can make the majority of politicians say anything less rational, more idiotic or more dangerous than they already do.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Don't be so sure. Just when you think things couldn't be any worse, they do. Just like everyone thought the Beast was the worst President ever. Then came the Smiler...

  10. Nimby

    Let the world burn.

    Frankly, IMHO, if a figurehead is too poorly understood, or a populace too easily manipulated, that this kind of thing actually fools enough people to make any difference, then they deserve what they get. There should be such a thing as common sense.

    But that aside, I don't get it. With proper mocap setup "fake" actors have been used in movies for years as special effects, with various qualities. I would have thought that by now, at least with popular figures that have extensive public catalogs of data to draw from, that by now we could do a full 3D model with realistic facial-recognition-trained animations and flawless voice synthesis with emotional range models at the push of a button, in effect green-screening both the scene and the actors with believable quality.

    Hollywood alone could fund the bejezus out of such software and put it to nearly infinite abuse. That our technology is publicly this far behind says a lot.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Let the world burn.

      There should be such a thing as common sense.

      Been said before... "common sense isn't common anymore".

      1. onefang

        Re: Let the world burn.

        'Been said before... "common sense isn't common anymore".'

        It never was.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reality imitates art...

    First thing I thought of was how Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzennegger's character) in the 1987 movie "Running Man" was framed for something he did not say or do, yet was heard saying and seen doing in video submitted as proof of his guilt.

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