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Deepfake app that turned photos of women into nudes yanked after going viral

By Shawn Knight · 5 replies
Jun 28, 2019
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  1. The developer of a deepfake app that took photos of clothed women and transformed them into nudes through the magic of machine learning shuttered the service after going viral.

    DeepNude launched earlier this year but didn’t gain widespread attention until this week when Motherboard ran a story on it. In a recent post on Twitter, the app’s creator said they never thought it would become viral and traffic would get out of hand. “We greatly underestimated the request.”

    Despite “safety measures” like watermarks, the dev said the probability that people will misuse it is too high (what wouldn’t be labeled misuse?). They don’t “want to make money this way” and have decided to cease offering the app.

    The app’s anonymous developer, who goes by the name “Alberto,” told Motherboard that DeepNude was inspired by ads for gadgets like X-Ray glasses that were regularly featured in magazines from the 60s and 70s.

    “Like everyone, I was fascinated by the idea that they could really exist and this memory remained. About two years ago I discovered the potential of AI and started studying the basics. When I found out that GAN networks were able to transform a daytime photo into a nighttime one, I realized that it would be possible to transform a dressed photo into a nude one. Eureka. I realized that x-ray glasses are possible!”

    Alberto said he isn’t a voyeur, but rather, a technology enthusiast.

    Motherboard tested the app when it was still live and found that it worked best on images where people were already showing a lot of skin, like those posing in bathing suits.

    DeepNude sparked outrage from revenge porn activists, law professors and other privacy advocates. Katelyn Bowden, founder and CEO of revenge porn activism organization Badass, told the publication that the tech shouldn’t be available to the public.

    Even its creator questioned if it should have been developed before ultimately deciding to give it the green light. “I also said to myself: the technology is ready (within everyone's reach). So if someone has bad intentions, having DeepNude doesn't change much... If I don't do it, someone else will do it in a year.”

    Masthead credit: Forbidden website by Stenko Vlad

    Permalink to story.

  2. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Evangelist Posts: 696   +500

    Just imagine a world with bullies in school with apps like this around... yikes.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  3. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 2,568   +1,548

    It wasn't really free... you got a HUGE watermark covering the entire photo unless you paid $50 for the "premium" version...

    It was also quite limited... you needed a frontal photo of someone wearing as little clothes as possible... and even then, it often failed...

    This wasn't some naive designer suddenly realizing what he did was wrong... this was someone who raked in as much money as he could, then took the app down before potential lawsuits could bankrupt him.

    I'd wager he's already sold the app to some porn company and you'll see it available to download within a day or so (perhaps already available, but I'm not looking).
  4. brucek

    brucek TS Maniac Posts: 192   +219

    Probably a minority opinion, but personally I wonder if this might actually do some good.

    Until now there has been a shame associated with naked pictures of you being available (unless you're a Kardashian, in which case it's a fortune instead.) Although this is mostly an unfair blame-the-victim affair, it can still be the reality, as if a "good girl" would never put themselves in a situation where this could happen.

    But in a world where everyone understood that 100% of all people are subject to having any image deep faked, the whole shaming aspect of it would fade away. People are less likely to throw stones when they and everyone else they know all live in glass houses. There'd also be no shock, no gossip, nothing really at all to talk about when the exact same body image can be and is attached to anyone else.

    Might be a welcome step in getting a little bit further from that Puritan heritage that still shows up all these centuries later.
    Ludak021 and ForgottenLegion like this.
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,128   +2,418

    Personally, I do not think it would be that simple. Usually, quick fixes have the best of intent, but that old saying comes into play: The road to hell is paved with good intent. Quick fixes are often not well thought out.

    So we all live under the threat of being exposed and, as such, won't do it to others?

    As I see it, there are plenty of total a$$holes out there to whom this would not be a deterrent even if we were used to seeing people naked every day. And there are those that know how to hide; a few steps across a VPN and most of the time, that is enough cover.

    For me, that puritan aspect is a matter of viewpoint. Personally, there are thousands if not millions of people out there that I would not want to see nude even if you paid me, and even if the world were completely rid of puritan mores.

    As I see it, the real problem is that there is profit of some sort to be made in exposing many people, especially those that are famous as you indicate, and as such, removing the profit motive is something that I think would have far a greater effect. Fakes are clickbait and in the interest of those who profit from porn and advertising.
  6. Thorney

    Thorney TS Enthusiast Posts: 56   +14

    Billions in my case but to be fair they are mostly men :D

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