DeepFakes and Jordan Peele’s Obama PSA

This is an awesome PSA about information hygene and the problems that our society is about to face. Basically, breakthroughs in the last few years have been accelerating what you can do with machine learning at a break-neck pace. Since people can kind of suck, not all of that advancement has been for the benefit of society at large.

In late 2017 some equally brilliant and creepy work was released letting someone (super creepy) place the face of anyone for whom they could get a few hundred pictures on a porn star’s body. Basically this was the creation of a new, modern, sex crime. No one wanted to talk about this threat, because – porn. Well, thankfully Jordan Peele and some others put out a PSA about this coming threat. As you can see in this video they have generated video of “President Obama”, saying all sorts of things. The video effectively nailed generation of voice, tone, intonation, gesture, and lighting. Its an awesome fake.

Right know, with a little knowledge about how the video was generated, it is fairly easy to prove its is not authentic. That illustrates the problem though, you quickly start needing to use math to prove that the video is faked. Math is also quickly becoming inherently distrusted by more and more people. We are also not that far from this tech being able to be run reliably in real time. So – generation of a video of any public figure believably saying anything you want them to is not that far off.

The obvious threat is anyone caught committing an undesirable act will soon be able to more believably cry “fake news”. Thats the simpler problem though. The real problem will kick off as soon as people start generating revisionist historical records. That thread – when pulled – could unravel our cultural anchor to the past, changing our understanding of our cultural and societal path to now.

Coding so hard I cried

I was just staring at my code so intently I forgot to blink. I noticed because when I finally did look up for a moment I got a weird look from someone in the coffee shop I am in coding in. I had been absent-mindedly wiping my eyes, but my best guess is that it looked like I was softly crying while typing in public. Thinking about that got me to pause long enough to realize that my eyes do indeed hurt.

Sometimes I really do wish someone would hurry up and invent a neural jack. Until then – more coffee.

The up side of AI

With all the crazy advancements in the technology in our daily lives it is easy to miss the fundamental fact that we are near the trough of the wave of crazy changes coming and not anywhere the crest.

More often than not I hear smart people saying that AI is going to come along and make humans obsolete. The problem with that fear is that it has as its premise the belief that everything, or at least most things, have already been invented. That’s been the fundamental fallacy throughout most of human history, but in this case it hides within the abstraction that AIs will invent everything for us, while robotics will manufacture everything for us.

Its true, making real AI could go seriously wrong for humanity. Thing is – as much as humans suck – we are also awesome. Case in point – this guy building a suit to let him fly.

Now look at that suit – he is using a bunch of tech preventing it from having been build-able just a few years ago. The cool part though is not what he is doing with the new tech. Once he has the suit working with him basically using his upper body to manually maneuver the jets – more sophisticated control and flight can be thrown at software and some machine learning.

So while a Skynet is something to be cautious of, humans plus AI to help them make crazy stuff has the potential to make it worth while exploring. I have a dish washer, a washing machine for my laundry, a phone, all sorts of incredibly powerful things that free up my time as a human. Because of that I live better than most kings did even 150 years ago. Rather than “take our jobs” – a human and AI collaboration has the potential to free humanity to explore a crazy and exponentially increasing number of things.

Whatever else it is, the future is going to be weird and awesome.