These Deepfakes of Freddy Mercury and Rami Malek Look Terrifyingly Real
Deepfakes are a fast-growing technological phenomenon which are also creating a moral-ethical dilemma. It is essentially an AI-powered technology used in altering videos and superimposing someone’s face and audio over another
Altering video footage is not something new. It has been there for as long as motion picture has been around. Traditionally, altering or tampering with videos required very skilled artists, took a lot of time and cost a lot of money so it was not something as readily accessible and manipulable as a meme. That is, it was mostly out of reach of people who would have zero moral qualms fiddling with and “weaponizing” this kind of technology.
The deepfake technology is however proving to be a gamechanger because it is getting incredibly good and convincing. As the technology proliferates and as simple websites come up that make these manipulations possible, virtually anyone will be able to create very convincing fake videos and this will be a massive time bomb in a world already grappling with fake news crisis.
The latest example of convincing deepfake and one that is a premonition of the terrifying possibilities of this technology was created by the deepfake YouTube channel known as CtrlShiftFace. It is quite convincing and spooky at the same time. The deepfake video makes Rami Malek’s face to closely resemble that of Freddy Mercury.
You might mistake it for a scene from biographical drama movie Bohemian Rhapsody but it is actually from Rami Malek’s award-winning TV series ‘Mr. Robot’. The scene shows Malek’s character ranting at organized religion rather than some Live Aid scene from Bohemian Rhapsody. What is shocking is how the artificial intelligence algorithms come very close to recreating the Freddy Mercury face from the original movie in this deepfake.
And it is not just this. The deepfaker CtrlShiftFace does some other close shaves on his YouTube channel which are quite impressive. Virtually, his deepfakes are simply perfection redefined. However, the deepfake voice renditions are still not as accurate as the image renditions but as you can imagine, it is only a matter of time before the voice recreations are just as real and perfect as the image transformations. Then, we will have a huge mess on our hands. If the real is simply indistinguishable from the virtual and where the only way to tell them apart is by carrying out some sophisticated electronic audit, then it is easy to see how this AI-based technology could be weaponized in the future and the moral dilemmas that it will pose. It will simply take fraud and disinformation to stratospheric levels and possibly create a whole new crime category.
CtrlShiftFace has done other almost-perfect deepfakes including one on an exchange between Keanu Reeves and Bruce Lee in “The Matrix”; Arnold Schwarzenegger with Sylvester Stallone in “Terminator” and recently, one where Elon Musk flies into space in a SpaceX Odyssey. He has also done a deepfake where Bill Hader subtly transforms into Tom Cruise while doing a Cruise impression on Dave Letterman’s show.
CtrlShiftFace isn’t the only party that does deepfakes. Other Deepfakers include Derpfakes, Coding Elite and a user named ‘jonty pressinger’ (on Instagram) who used deepfakes to fix the original Lion King comic and bring it back to reissue. The video has already grossed more than 3.5 million views on YouTube.