Seeing is not believing, since the porn peddlers are busy adapting software to insert your face in any ol’ smutty scenario they want.
Like the Adobe tool that can make people say anything, and the Face2Face algorithm that can swap a recorded video with real-time face tracking, this new type of fake porn shows that we’re on the verge of living in a world where it’s trivially easy to fabricate believable videos of people doing and saying things they never did. Even having sex.
But of course these tools are being refined to appropriate women’s images — it’s what this culture does. I’m sure the gay porn will be following along shortly.
It’s interesting that they’re reporting on the work of a single guy, “deepfakes”, who’s basically a script kiddie churning through existing software to slap celebrity faces on pornographic movies, as if that is some grand achievement. No one is questioning his motives, in part because he’s got enough shame left in him that he doesn’t let his identity out.
According to deepfakes—who declined to give his identity to me to avoid public scrutiny—the software is based on multiple open-source libraries, like Keras with TensorFlow backend. To compile the celebrities’ faces, deepfakes said he used Google image search, stock photos, and YouTube videos. Deep learning consists of networks of interconnected nodes that autonomously run computations on input data. In this case, he trained the algorithm on porn videos and Gal Gadot’s face. After enough of this “training,” the nodes arrange themselves to complete a particular task, like convincingly manipulating video on the fly.
Artificial intelligence researcher Alex Champandard told me in an email that a decent, consumer-grade graphics card could process this effect in hours, but a CPU would work just as well, only more slowly, over days.
“This is no longer rocket science,” Champandard said.
I’ve seen several articles on this subject recently. Oddly, no one seems to be asking deepfakes why he’s doing this, which also says something about the culture. I guess it’s taken for granted that guys with expensive computers will sink hours of time into this strange hobby of making obsessive masturbation aids.
It mainly seems to be women and sex workers who are questioning the ethics of their behavior.
Porn performer Grace Evangeline told me over Twitter direct messages that porn stars are used to having their work spread around free to tube sites like SendVid, where the Gal Gadot fake is uploaded, without their permission. But she said that this was different. She’d never seen anything like this.
“One important thing that always needs to happen is consent,” Evangeline said. “Consent in private life as well as consent on film. Creating fake sex scenes of celebrities takes away their consent. It’s wrong.”
Even for people whose livelihoods involve getting in front of a camera, the violation of personal boundaries is troubling. I showed Alia Janine, a retired porn performer who was in the sex industry for 15 years, the video of Gadot. “It’s really disturbing,” she told me over the phone. “It kind of shows how some men basically only see women as objects that they can manipulate and be forced to do anything they want… It just shows a complete lack of respect for the porn performers in the movie, and also the female actresses.”
It’s a collision of pedestrian realities, that some men will go to great lengths to make simulated sex that won’t involve interacting with icky women, and that they feel no obligation to respect other human beings.