Engineers have created a creepy new deepfake software that can create an eerily lifelike representation of someone using just one image and a voice recording.
Deepfakes use deeplearning to artificially simulate eerily accurate videos of real human beings. The new development plunges us further down the rabbit hole.
Singing Kim Jong-Il
We've already seen the Mona Lisa come to life through deepfake technology.
The implications of the software are being widely discussed, mainly for the way it can be used for political manipulation.
In a world where fake news is already rampant, this technology could be used to manipulate large audiences into believing a political figure or world leader said something they did not.
Despite this, academics are still working away at improving the technology.
Researchers and developers from Imperial College have joined forces with Samsung to work on a deepfake system that only needs one image to create its videos.
They used the software to make North Korea's Kim Jong-Il sing Gangnam Style.
They also reanimated Einstein using only one still.
In a paper describing their work and findings, the Imperial College team noted: "speech-driven facial animation is the process that automatically synthesizes talking characters based on speech signals."
"The majority of work in this domain creates a mapping from audio features to visual features. We present an end-to-end system that generates videos of a talking head, using only a still image of a person and an audio clip containing speech, without relying on handcrafted intermediate features."
"Our method generates videos which have (a) lip movements that are in sync with the audio and (b) natural facial expressions such as blinks and eyebrow movements."
This month, Top House Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) issued a warning that deepfake videos could have a disastrous effect on the 2020 election cycle.
U.S. Congress has been discussing the dangers of deepfakes, and changes might be coming to the law based on these warnings.
Though seeing old photographs and images come to life might be a technical marvel, it also poses dangers in an online public space that is already seeing widespread manipulation take place.