Deepfake video is becoming a hot topic right now. The Chinese app ZAO, for example, has gone viral in recent days. With it, you can use images of your faces to replace those of movie and TV actors. Unlike a mere photoshop, however, which produces only still images, ZAO allows this replacement to be done, in mere seconds, on video format. In the image below, you can see how user Allan Xia altered a scene from the American show Game of Thrones, putting his own face in place of the character’s.
In Brazil, student Bruno Sarttori has also developed a program for making deepfake videos, and currently uses it to create parodies featuring politicians and other well-known figures in the country.
Deepfake technology, however, can be used for more than creating funny videos, and indeed have serious effects on politics and society, as well as on the way we handle the authentication of people online.
What is deepfake
Deepfake is a video editing tool that uses artificial intelligence to create fake videos. The term comes from the junction of deep learning – the process used to “teach” machines – and the word “fake”. With it, it is possible to manipulate video in order to overlay a person’s face on existing material, such as what the ZAO application does.
The idea behind deepfake is relatively simple. First, you must feed the artificial intelligence with a person’s actual videos and/or audios. Machine learning algorithms will then “learn” that person’s expressions and mannerisms, recognizing speech and movement patterns. After that, you just need to input the images and audios of another person, and voilà, deepfake will be created from the synthesis of these contents.
Today’s deepfake may not yet be completely realistic, but the artificial intelligence technology that makes it possible is evolving very fast. The amount of raw material needed to train an AI, for example, is getting smaller and smaller, making the creation of such videos cheaper and more accessible.
The impacts of deepfake
Even though putting someone’s face in the place of that of a movie character is fun, deepfake videos can have serious consequences when used for other purposes. Imagine, for example, someone using a picture of you and putting it into deepfake of a pornographic movie, making it look like you were part of that scene. This person could try to extort you by saying that he or she will post the material unless you agree to pay a certain amount of money, or maybe use it for bullying and intimidating you.
Furthermore, think about the effects of deepfake on politics. We already live in a world of fake news, where it is increasingly difficult to be sure that a piece of information is true. If this task is already complex when it comes to text and images, the challenge will be even greater when campaigns are conducted based on fake videos of politicians, in which they appear saying things they never really said!
In New York University’s Disinformation and the 2020 Election: How the Social Media Industry Should Prepare report, deepfake is cited as the main threat to the 2020 presidential elections in the United States. According to the report:
“Deepfakes threaten to cloud reality at a time when the existence of objective facts increasingly has been called into question.”
In the video below, you can see an example of a deepfake of former US President Barack Obama, in which he appears “saying” offensive things about current President Donald Trump.
Deepfake versus facial recognition authentication
Facial recognition authentication is already used in a variety of cases. They range from the simple, such as unlocking your smartphone, to the more complex, like checking in at the airport automatically, without having to show documents to a human employee. Some of these uses are already contested. In San Francisco, for example, police departments were banned from using face recognition technology in crowds, and in Sweden, a school was fined for using it to monitor student attendance.
Deepfake is another complicating factor for this authentication mechanism. The use of biometrical recognition, which has generally been considered a very safe method, will no longer be so. The previous argument was that, unlike a password that could be stolen, no one could “steal” someone else’s face and use it to fraud the authentication mechanism. The situation, of course, changes dramatically from the moment deepfake becomes accessible and realistic. With it, it becomes possible to impersonate someone and use their biometrical features to gain access to various devices and services.
How to ensure a secure authentication with blockchain technology
Deepfake videos make it even clearer that it is not safe to have only one authentication method for access. This is because any method, however theoretically secure, has flaws that can be exploited by malicious agents.
This makes the use of blockchain technology for authentication even more attractive. With it, a person’s identity can be verified not from a single attribute but from a collection of them. OMyID, OriginalMy’s Blockchain Identity, clearly demonstrates this. Firstly, it is a verified identity, in which data is validated, and includes name, phone number, email address, passport number, among others, that are checked against public databases. It also requires the user’s photo, a selfie that must be taken at the moment of the creation of the OMyID, and that is compared to the picture from the official ID provided.
Now imagine the following scenario: you want to sign a contract using a Blockchain ID so that you have solid proof of authorship. It is virtually impossible to fraud the creation of an OMyID is since you need to have access to all the information cited above.
It is also highly unlikely that you will be able to access someone else’s OMyID, as you would have to have their smartphone, which contains the OMyID, and is the only way to access it, the biometrics or password required to unlock the device, and the private key to sign the contract.
These guarantees are some of the advantages that make OMyID so necessary for those who want to protect their data and have more security online. This is the reason why it is being used by exchanges such as Profitfy, 3xBit and Anubis Trade to allow users to login without requiring the creation of accounts with username and password. It is also used in P2P trading to confirm the identity of traders.
Want to be more secure and protect your identity online? So make your OMyID right now!