How to stay ahead of deepfake videos before the 2020 US election

The fight to stay ahead of deepfake videos before the 2020 US election

With the 2020 US presidential election looming, political leaders, presidential candidates and the country’s intelligence chief are worried about doctored videos being used to mislead voters.

Deepfakes — a combination of the terms “deep learning” and “fake” —  are persuasive-looking but false video and audio files. Made using cutting-edge and relatively accessible AI technology, they purport to show a real person doing or saying something they did not.

They’ve already been used to embarrass celebrities and politicians, and the videos are easier and cheaper than ever to produce — and look increasingly realistic. The seemingly endless real footage of politicians speaking on YouTube, including US presidential candidates, is a gold mine for anyone considering using this type of AI for election meddling.

The researchers are figuring this out by using automated tools to pore over hours of authentic YouTube videos of people like President Trump and former President Barack Obama, looking for relationships between head movements, speech patterns, and facial expressions.

For instance, Farid said, when Obama delivers bad news, he frowns and tends to tilt his head down; he tends to tilt his head up when giving happy news.

As of April, Farid said that his tool is 95% accurate in identifying deepfake videos of famous people it’s been trained on. It can confirm about 95% of genuine videos as the real deal. He thinks he can get to 99% accuracy within the next six months, which would be just in time for a handful of primary debates.

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