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TED 2018: Fake Obama video creator defends invention

TED 2018: Fake Obama video creator defends invention
From BBC - April 12, 2018

A researcher who created a fake video of President Obama has defended his invention at the latest TED talks.

The clip shows a computer-generated version of the former US leader mapped to fit an audio recording. Experts have warned the tech involved could spark a "political crisis".

Dr Supasorn Suwajanakorn acknowledged that there was a "potential for misuse".

But, at the Vancouver event, he added the tech could be a force for good.

The computer engineer is now employed by Google's Brain division. He is also working on a tool to detect fake videos and photos on behalf of the AI Foundation.

Damage risk

Dr Suwajanakon, along with colleagues Steven Seitz and Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman from the University of Washington, released a paper in July 2017 describing how they created the fake Obama.

They developed an algorithm that took audio and transposed it on to a 3D model of the president's face.

The task was completed by a neural network, using 14 hours of Obama speeches and layering that data on top of a basic mouth shape.

Dr Suwajanakorn acknowledged that "fake videos can do a lot of damage" and needed an ethical framework.

"The reaction to our work was quite mixed. People, such as graphic designers, thought it was a great tool. But it was also very scary for other people," he told the BBC.

Political crisis

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