These videos have been around for over a year but didn’t receive as much attention as I’d have expected. Given the strong resemblance to “pranks” in their inherent trickery and potential for malicious intent, it seems appropriate to highlight them in an April 1 post.
First, from July 2017, is a video created by a research team from the University of Washington using software and previous footage of President Obama to create a speech that is completely fabricated.
Second, from April 2018, is a similar speech created by Jordan Peele to put the same point across to a wider audience in the form of a humorous “public service announcement.”
And finally—also from April of last year—is this TED talk from Supasorn Suwajanakorn, a member of the research team that created the original fake. In his 7-minute presentation Suwajanakorn explains how fakes like this one are created, how to tell a fake video from a real one, and what the implications of this technology may be.
I guess the punchline to this “prank” would be: If we believe that “seeing is believing” with any sort of digitally-vulnerable source, then the joke’s on us.