AI creates fake faces indistinguishable from real people
Some disturbing videos of Tom Cruise swept the internet last year. In these viral videoshe does pretty normal things, like swinging a golf club or munching on a lollipop, but something is wrong.
The account behind the videos, @deeptomcruise, posts artificially generated “deepfakes”. Deepfake refers to a computer-generated image or video of a person that is nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.
Recent movies and shows, such as Star Wars franchise, used advanced technology to resurrect deceased actors or to overlay younger versions of older actors over their performances. The public generally alternated between feeling disturbed or laughing at these attempts.
But, as technology improves every year, people laugh less and less.
We are being fooled more and more.
We can no longer tell the difference between the fake and the real
A recent study has shown that AI can now create images of human faces that are nearly impossible to tell whether they are real or fake.
Nvidia is one of the most cutting-edge graphics and artificial intelligence companies. One of their programs, StyleGAN2, was used in a recent study from Lancaster University to generate images of human faces.
The study found that people were only right 48% of the time when told to label images as real or fake, meaning they couldn’t distinguish between photos generated by the ‘AI and real images.
Even when the experimenter took a new group and trained them beforehand on how to spot counterfeits, their accuracy only increased by 59%.
Not only that, but participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 7 how trustworthy the faces seemed. Completely faked images were eight percent Continued trustworthy on average.
To create these synthetic images, the program opposes two AIs. The first AI randomly gathers pixels in an image. Then another program penalizes the first AI if the other program can tell the difference between the real and fake images, which helps the first AI make improvements. The program does this over and over until finally random pixels generate a photorealistic image of a face.
To see images of non-real people created by this AI engine, visit this person does not exist.com. Each time you refresh the page, a new image appears.
How pornography stimulates the development of technology
Although these artificially generated photos may seem like a harmless experiment or novelty, people are already using these technologies in corrupt and reprehensible ways.
According to another recent study, 96% of all deepfake videos are pornographic. Pornography is one of the main drivers of these innovations. Overall, the the porn industry is estimated at 40 billion dollars and $100 billion. For reference, worldwide box office movie revenues were around $43 billion in 2019.
Some worry about creating fake porn based on a real person be used for blackmail or to get “revenge” on an ex-partner (so-called “revenge porn”). Already, people are using deepfake technology to create porn based on real people, mostly actresses or other famous people. It has also been used in propaganda and disinformation campaigns before.
Because of these terrifying prospects of abuse, the authors of the study write, “We therefore encourage those developing these technologies to consider whether the associated risks outweigh their benefits. If so, we discourage development of the technology simply because it is possible.
For a more complete answer to artificial intelligence, read “What does the Bible say about AI?”
How did we come here? Immanuel Kant’s Argument
This technology seems like a bad idea. So why are we still chasing it? It seems to depend on the “post-truth” worldview. Dr. Jim Denison wrote about four earthquakes that we cannot see causing a cultural tsunami in his book, The Coming Tsunami. This analogy is again useful because it is not obvious why we as a society choose to advance this technology.
It seems our culture doesn’t believe we can grasp “objective” truth, so we can only know “what is true for me.”
It goes back, in part, to a philosopher named Immanuel Kant from the 1700s. Although his ideas were brilliant, they impacted the world far beyond his original philosophical musings. For summarize one of his complex main ideas:
- The concepts of time and space are pre-programmed into our minds; they are not “there” in reality. We know this because we have to understand time and space before we can perceive something else. I need to understand 3D space before I can understand my cup of coffee, for example.
- Our most fundamental ways of thinking are related to time and space.
- This means that our most basic thought patterns depend on something in our mind that is not actually “out there”.
- Our beliefs and observations are based on these fundamental thought patterns.
- Therefore, our beliefs and observations (which are based on these fundamental thought patterns) also depend on our own mind and not actually “out there”.
- So, we can’t know for sure what the reality “out there” really looks like.
In short, because we believe and observe through a lens we can’t remove, so we can’t know what reality “out there” really looks like. We cannot know how accurately our perception reflects reality “as it is”.
It’s a curious puzzle, an interesting philosophical argument, an ivory tower, isn’t it? Its effects go far beyond a headache.
Kant’s arguments led to the rise of the 19th century German idealism and existentialism, two movements in the history of philosophy that were decisive in arriving at our current “post-truth” culture. We can clearly see Kant’s ideas about what we can know about reality in our culture.
For the most part, it doesn’t matter if our sexual gratification is “real.” How things “appear” to us is all we can know, or at least for us, all that matters.
trust the word
We can rely on God’s purpose and power to address Kant on a basic level. If God created the universe and our minds, He designed us to be confident enough in our senses and reason to match external reality. Obviously, we are finite, therefore our knowledge will be finite; obviously, we fell, so even if we had perfect “knowledge” of the real world, we would still abuse it.
Although we cannot fully address Kant’s arguments here, we can point to biblical truth.
- Unfortunately, we can now fool someone’s eyes, not just their ears, with words. God says, “He who practices deceit shall not dwell in my house” (Psalm 101:7). We must pray that God will “keep deceit and lies away from [us](Proverbs 30:8).
- The use of pornography is quite a sin and its effects are destructive to love and relationships. Anything that is not in God’s design for sexuality must be rejected. We must “run away from sexual immorality.” Any other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
- We need to be discerning and wise in a time when discernment, especially online and in social media, is becoming more difficult. Steve Yount writes about this in “How to find the truth about fake newsand I give answers from Proverbs on how to navigate social networks.
- We should push for government policy that limits this technology. Our current laws are obsolete and have not kept up with rapid technological development (1 Peter 2:13-14).
- God revealed the ultimate source of truth in his word and in his son Jesus (John 14:6). We can be sure that the universe was created in order (John 1). We need to be humble in what we don’t know while also not giving in to the cultural idea that there is no truth.
These principles are eternal truths, regardless of technological developments.
The AI-generated images were perceived as “more trustworthy” than real people, which begs the question: who do you trust?
Don’t trust social media, technology, political parties, or even, ultimately, others.
Instead, trust the truth of God’s word.