In context: It’s no secret that deepfakes have been getting better in recent times, especially when it comes to placing people into movies and TV shows. The latest example sees Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk dropped into the pilot episode of the original Star Trek, and it’s quite an eye-opener.
Deepfakes, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the manipulation of images and videos using machine learning, usually involving the superimposing of a person’s face over the source material. When it first came to light, it was quite easy to spot a doctored video—but the quality is improving.
In the clip, Bezos plays a Talosian alien. Its big, bald head likely made it easier to insert the Amazon CEO. We also see Musk as Captain Christopher Pike, captain of the USS Enterprise before Kirk. There are several characters involved in the scene, but they’ve been cut out, which is why the conversation seems a bit bizarre.
An equally impressive recent deepfake saw an altered version of 80s classic Back to the Future. In it, Spider-Man Tom Holland is pasted into the Michael J. Fox role, while Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. takes over from Christopher Lloyd.
While these clips are fun, there’s concern that deepfakes could be used to put words into the mouths of public figures, thereby spreading false news or worse. It's also been used to place the faces of Hollywood actresses onto porn stars in adult movies—something that's been classed as nonconsensual content.
A deepfakes pioneer last September said we were six months away from “perfectly real” videos, and it looks as if he might be right.