Saturday, November 25, 2017 by Rita Winters
While other people enjoy movies for their story lines, some people watch to appreciate a movie’s hyper-realistic special effects. However, some special effects developers may be taking this technology a step too far. Last year, a team of German programmers designed a software that was able to change the mouth shapes and words of a person speaking in a video. They shook the whole world with their manipulation of videos of prominent people from around the world. This year, they introduced a program that added and deleted items (and people), all in real time.
This new video editing program is able to create and remove objects in real time. It can also add new realistic objects, and even create a whole bunch of realistic faces. What’s scary about it is that you might have seen them before, but these faces do not exist in real life. It might be a great program for people in the entertainment industry, but it is frightening to imagine it in the hands of ranking officials with hidden sociopolitical agendas.
Video editing software and audio editing software have long been used in the film and entertainment industry to make things more realistic, and of course, to add effect. This kind of technology had been invented many years ago, but has only been able to amend videos that have already been recorded. It was also used in the seventh Fast and the Furious movie, to re-create Paul Walker (who died prior to the film’s wrap-up).
While it may look amazingly realistic, and most of us would like to try it out, there are implications to the software functioning in real time. In as fast as 40 milliseconds, an object can be deleted from a video, a person can be added to it, and an actor can be behind the scenes to speak for it. How terrifying it would be that one day, everything we see on TV and on Internet live streams will be scripted, enacted, and overall, fake.
It also poses a threat to the safety and security of everyone in the whole world. With our reliance on CCTVs and other recording software, we could suddenly be involved in a dire situation because of an edited video. Evidence will now literally be planted, and it could surely be used against us. The fact that it can also re-create your own unique voice just adds to the nightmare it already is.
As innocent as initial intentions may seem, the programmers who create these technologies are also creating a dangerous future for the entire human race. AIs and learning machines are already riding a tsunami towards mass production, and then this real-time editing software arrives. How far are we willing to go to put our kind at risk into the hands of machines and ill-wishing people who want nothing but to stay on top? We all need to be extremely alert and aware of the technologies that are being produced. Our future depends on our current decisions to support or to discourage these types of advancements. A day will come when we find ourselves at the mercy of the things we ourselves created, or trapped in a virtual reality, just like Neo.