Deepfake: after early abuses, a way to make work communication more fun

·2-min read
While most of the known deepfakes have been used for malicious purposes or as a warning about their technology, they're now being used in advertising or internal communications for companies.

For remote working, the use of "deepfake" technology is reinventing and revitalizing companies' means of communication. No more presentation slides or insipid meetings: employees can create their own virtual double for a more positive use of the technology.

Here is a potentially fun use of technology: deepfake avatars popping up in emails or presentation pitches. The term 'deepfake' refers to technologically superimposed existing images or sounds on other visual files to create realistic depictions. Thanks to artificial intelligence software provided by the British company Synthesia, employees of EY (ex-Ernst and Young), a financial auditing firm, now exchange videos between colleagues in which their virtual double speaks and gesticulates. Can this be a way to make telecommuting more fun?

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According to The Wired, yes. These videos could enliven remote work and make video conferencing more enjoyable. "We use it as an element of differentiation and reinforcement of the person's identity," says Jared Reeder, an employee at EY. More than a differentiator, these videos help reinforce the company culture. Employees go so far as to stage their virtual reality double during presentations to clients or meetings with partners, specifying in passing that these videos are artificially created in order to avoid potential misunderstandings.

Thin line between asset and threat
The first appearances of deepfake were noticed on social networks. In 2017, pornographic faked images were massively distributed on the social network Reddit. Allowing the use of real images while artificially adding anyone's face, such "hyper faked" pornography poses a potential threat to personal integrity and the spread of false information.

In the same year, the BBC broadcast a "speech" by former US President Barack Obama . The incredibly realistic video was actually a fake speech produced by researchers from the University of Washington.

Despite potential abuses of the technology, many sectors have seized on artificial intelligence software, as in the case of EY, for more positive purposes. The advertising industry has also taken this path, and Spotify, Hulu and the NGO RepresentUS have chosen to use deepfakes for their communication campaigns.

When you're aware of what's going on, the use of this technology can be funny and engaging; if not, it can be disturbing.

Louis Bolla

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