“Are you in a precarious situation? … You sound like you can’t talk.” Karah Preiss’ cousin Leslie accused her of being sleepy and distracted and eventually hung up, but didn’t guess the truth. Preiss had placed the call using a software clone of her voice made to demonstrate artificial intelligence’s ability to deceive.
Preiss relates her family experiment in the fifth installment of the Sleepwalkers podcast, a guide to the recent boom in artificial intelligence. The episode examines how AI technology is reshaping perceptions of reality in phone pranks, on Facebook, in Hollywood, and in politics.
Fake videos known as deepfakes are powerful examples of how AI can upend our usual sense of true and false. The term originates from a Reddit account of the same name that in late 2017 posted pornographic video clips with the faces of Hollywood actresses swapped in.
The homemade machine-learning tool used to create those initial deepfakes was soon posted publicly. Deepfake clips are now a staple of both porn sites and YouTube, where one popular meme involves swapping Nicolas Cage into TV shows and movies he didn’t appear in.