Bottom line: Given the proliferation of deepfakes as of late, it was only a matter of time before someone automated the process and made it readily accessible to all. That day has come although fortunately, the developer has had a change of heart and taken the app offline. Copycats, however, will be inevitable.
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