1 Jun 2021

Why We Shouldn’t Be So Scared Of Deepfakes

David Beckham, Startup, Venture Capital, Deepfake, Medicine

With deepfake technology, a form of AI, algorithms can learn to create realistic-seeming images, videos, and audio footage of real people based on existing media sources. The content of deepfake media, however, is far from real.

BuzzFeed’s video of Obama calling Trump a “complete dipshit” demonstrates the technology’s ability to replicate the image, movement, and voice of one of the world’s most well-known figures – almost convincingly. Deepfakes blur the distinction between real and fake, human and inhuman.

This uncertainty has raised concern, especially in the context of political fake news and fake pornography. Many see deepfake technology purely as a threat. Yet, the technology also offers a plethora of beneficial practical use cases.

Read on to learn about 3 positive uses for deepfakes and decide for yourself whether we should steer away from this form of AI, or if deepfakes can be used for good.



Advancing Medicine

Deepfakes’ capacity to synthesise realistic data has the potential to hugely help medical research. Researchers can develop new disease treatments and diagnose medical conditions by testing on true-to-life deepfake data, rather than actual patient data.

This speeds up the process and reduces financial costs and the risk of privacy breaches. ‘Fake’ brain MRI scans have been shown to be useful in training AI to spot medical conditions.

A study by NVIDIA, the Mayo Clinic, and the MGH & BWH Center for Clinical Data Science found that a combination of 10% real data and the rest deepfake is sufficient at training the algorithm to detect tumours in new images. This is especially useful when data corresponding to rare diseases is limited.

Deepfakes can also be used for therapeutic medical purposes. Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) whose ability to speak and communicate is impacted by the disease can use deepfake synthetic voice modelling to be able to talk in their own voice to loved ones.

The technology can also help in bereavement therapy, where remodelling of existing footage of a late friend or relative can enable artificial video conversations between the deceased and those grieving. Although this may seem a little uncanny, it has been shown to help people remember or connect with those they have lost.

Immersive Education

Deepfake technology can bring historical figures back to life or create interactive representations of physical anatomy to provide a more engaging educational experience. The Dalí Museum in Florida used deepfake technology to create a life-sized display of Salvador Dalí himself, who tells visitors his life story in thousands of unique interactive combinations to provide each visitor with a unique experience.

Salvador Dali, Deepfake, Deepfake Education, Startup, Venture Capital

Deepfake Salvador Dalí interacts with visitors at the Dali Museum. Image via Dali Museum.

The speech that John F. Kennedy was supposed to give on the day he was assassinated, but was never performed, has been reproduced using deepfake algorithms by Scottish company CereProc.

Audio recordings of the former U.S. President trained the AI to realistically mimic Kennedy’s voice as it performs the historical moment that never happened. This footage provides a new engaging context to students studying the assassination, as well as continuing Kennedy’s legacy.

And the Advertising Potential for Business? 

Dynamic advertising campaigns, which provide highly targeted and personalized messaging to users, can be accelerated by deepfakes.

A single piece of footage provided by a celebrity or influencer can be manipulated using deepfake technology to display many variations of an ad, the messaging of which is intended to correspond to the interests of the user it is targeting. In 2018, a Zalando marketing campaign featuring Cara Delevingne used deepfake technology to provide 280,000 different localised ads that included different voice fonts and shots for deeper engagement. 

Deepfakes blur the distinction between real and fake, human and inhuman.

Since the campaign’s success—one hundred and eighty million impressions across twelve different countries— many industries, including non-profits, are taking deepfake ads even further. The charity Malaria No More UK has partnered with David Beckham to produce a deepfake ad that features him seamlessly delivering an anti-malaria message in nine different languages.

Have you made up your mind about deepfakes yet?

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