Embracing our deepfake future
"Is it live? Or is it Memorex?" Those of us who’ve been around a while will recall those iconic TV commercials where the announcer challenged the audience to tell the difference between a recorded performance and a live one (or as "live" as a pre-recorded TV spot can be). The idea was that the recording medium -- in this case, Memorex brand audio cassette tapes -- reproduced the full fidelity of the original so faithfully that, in one case, a singer’s high note recorded on one of their tapes literally shattered a nearby wine glass.
I like to think of the above as the first, crude precursor to what today we call "deepfake" technology. But whereas faithfully reproducing audio content has been a net positive for humanity (you wouldn’t be enjoying your MP3s or Spotify streams without those pioneering first steps), deepfake -- or the ability to recreate and/or completely simulate (using AI) both the audio and video representations of a live person -- has been universally panned because of its potential for abuse. After all, in a world full of fake news, it’s not hard to imagine some bad actor deciding to put out bogus recordings (or recreations) of high-profile individuals for personal or political gain.
And as if things weren’t bad enough already, the inventor of everyone’s favorite trigger-happy digital assistant, Amazon Alexa, is now predicting a near future where we’ll be able to use AI to create multiple, virtual copies of ourselves, and that these copies will be indistinguishable from the real thing. In other words, you’ll finally be able be in two places at the same time (at least virtually speaking).
Again, some will view this new development as creepy. They’ll say that having multiple copies of themselves running around on the Internet would open a whole new can of moral and ethical worms. However, I see these new "synthetic brains" as the ultimate lifestyle enhancer!
Need some quality time with the mistress but don’t want the wife to find out? Have one of your virtual selves chat her up on the phone from work while you and your "side-squeeze" get busy in the copier room!
Want to whack a political rival but need an airtight alibi to throw off suspicion? Have one of your virtual selves host an interactive, online video press conference where he/she/it takes questions from reporters and even cracks a few of your favorite one-liners. That way, you can take your time and really enjoy choking the life out of that "carpetbagging asshat who was trying to unseat you!"
Seriously, with the combination of deepfake technology and the coming, AI-driven, synthetic brain revolution, the possibilities truly are endless! It’s even better than that ridiculous conclusion to the oh-so-controversial Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Because, unlike Luke Skywalker, I don’t have to die after projecting my avatar into the universe!
Oh, and in case you take this article too literally and begin questioning my moral compass, please note that it isn’t actually me who is writing it. Rather, this is the 331st virtual copy of the individual named "Randall C. Kennedy" speaking to you live from our future AI-dominated, deepfake-populated internet… and there’s no way you can prove otherwise.