The Camera Cannot Lie — False

Photo by The Moon Unit © 2020

I know of a person who lost their job because of a social media picture. They were depicted in an unflattering manner that caused their company to distance itself from the employee. It wasn’t fair and the person had no recourse. His supervisor said, “The camera cannot lie.” Yet, everyone knows that Photoshop allows pictures to be easily altered.

I once posted a picture of an actress in a place where she had never visited and wearing an outfit she never wore. Three quarters of her image wasn’t even her. Before you think ill of me for doctoring up her picture, she did give me her approval to use her likeness for the fundraiser. But what about those who don’t bother to get approval to manipulate a picture?

The man who lost his job was the recipient of a bully’s outrage when he said, “No,” to being leveraged. Unfortunately, it cost him his job and savings, as it took him two years to get the altered photo removed so he could find another job.

I shared the story at a speaking event and a person from the audience interjected that at least we can still trust videos. But can we?

Deepfake is a professional term defining a new Ai-based technology that allows a production company to alter reality in video. You might remember seeing a young Princess Leia appearing in Rogue One or how about Grand Moff Tarkin played by an actor who was deceased.

Deepfake also allows production companies to use other actors to play historical people with a scary level of accuracy. I recently watched a video of an actor playing President Obama. The Obama character looked, moved, and sounded just like him, but he said things that Obama would have never said. The video was 100% believable. Every viewer thought the clip was actually President Obama.

Okay, so at this point most people won’t care too much since it costs $100 million to create such incredible and believable magic. Ah, but that is no longer true. Recent breakthroughs in Ai technology makes similar software available to just about anyone who buys the app. Of course, the more they understand media, the more realistic their manipulated videos look.

I watched a $150,000 clip created by an effects house and compared it with an iPhone clip made with an app, and it was really hard to tell which one was the special effect. When I saw the two side by side, it was easier for me to see the difference, but without that point of reference, I wouldn’t have been able to guess.

Today, if you want to manipulate someone’s future by altering a video so they appear to be doing something inappropriate, you can do so with a simple app. To help protect us from tech-based corruption, several companies have developed Ai inspectors to determine the legitimacy of a video clip.

Unfortunately, if the video is up and downloaded numerous times around the Internet, the picture elements that Ai uses to distinguish the real from the fake are no longer useful.

I’m sure the first questionable public manipulations will be in the political arena with people screaming that the video is real, not fake. But it will soon be followed by videos that discredit religious leaders with the showing of illicit events or radical comments that never occurred.

Times have changed and photos and videos are no longer trustworthy. In fact, by searching YouTube for deepfake examples, you’ll see things that will open your eyes to the technology. But be aware of your reaction and take note. Why?

Because today over 70% of people in America do not trust TV news because of its heavy bias, but when a crisis hits, most of that 70% tune in to a news program to learn the “truth” about the crisis. The irony of that circumstance is amazing.

When you see the next deepfake picture or video causing someone to lose their job, will the power of the image overshadow your thinking until you believe it? Or, will you find yourself suggesting that the video is probably not really a deepfake video? Or, will you consider that the only reason a deepfake was used might be because the person is really bad anyway?

Deepfake is now here and we must be ready to NOT believe the fake picture and video that might cause a knee jerk response and judgment to knock down good leaders. By the way, the picture of the woman above is deepfake. No such person exists.

For a more in depth article on how deepfake is being used in advertising, read what The Moon Unit is doing.

copyright © 2020 by CJ Powers

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