Deepfakes Trek Eerily Closer to the Uncanny Valley, as Demonstrated by this Tom Cruise Imposter 

You’d be forgiven for thinking Tom Cruise is suddenly a social media star. No, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense for the notoriously reclusive scientologist to sign up for TikTok and ham it up on camera for an audience of millions. But an unknowing glance at @deeptomcruise makes a lot more sense than the truth.

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Tom Cruise is the latest celebrity to be the subject of deepfakes, an increasingly popular technology that uses AI to make a convincing video of anyone. The TikTok account @deeptomcruise is a collaboration between Christopher Ume, visual effects designer, and Miles Fisher, a Tom Cruise impersonator. Ume superimposes Cruise’s face onto Fisher’s while he runs around a fancy house or plays golf to provide the uncanny feeling of watching a world-renowned multi-millionaire in his private moments.

A recent article from The New York Times investigates the growing popularity of deepfakes like @deeptomcruise and asks its practitioners in the tech world about ethical concerns. Ume reveals that making these videos has (thankfully) not been easy, and that he spends an average of 24 hours producing each clip. Ume also has an exceptionally talented partner in the form of Fisher, who performs eerily accurate impressions of Cruise’s voice and physical mannerisms. “It’s not something you can do at a home computer, pressing a button,” Ume told The New York Times.

While it’s comforting to know that making convincing deepfakes requires a great deal of skill, Ume is at least partially motivated by wanting to warn viewers about advancing technology. “I don’t intend to use it in any way where I would upset people—I just want to show them what’s possible in few years,” he told The Guardian. NYT warns readers that “as the technology becomes more advanced, less content will be needed to create the videos,” and Ume theorizes that by 2025, making a deepfake might be as easy as putting on a Snapchat filter. “I just strongly think there should be laws to help with the responsible use of AI and deepfakes.”

In the meantime, the videos of @deeptomcruise make a compelling statement about privacy in an age of hyper-surveillance. Ume chose an interesting figure in Cruise, an enigmatic man who is now most famous for his high influence within the wealthy, cult-like Church of Scientology. If this is something that can be used against powerful people with lots of money and strong PR teams, this quickly-evolving technology may cause concern for those of us with far fewer resources.

Source: core77

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