Tech Diaries: What is all the fuss about Deepfakes?

3 min read


The main story of this edition of the Tech Diaries is the Deepfakes issue that has gotten the U.S Congress freaking out. It represents the class of synthetic media generated by AI and represents another dark side of technology – ringing alarm bells about what the implications of a sudden digital transformation can have on the society as a whole. The disruption caused by deepfakes can have serious consequences on how we differentiate right from wrong – as if the “fake news” issue on the social media & other platforms isn’t enough headache already. U.S lawmakers have started hearings on the issue, fearing the disruptive & deceptive technology may unfairly affect the upcoming U.S Presidential elections in 2020 – as we saw, how just a simple low tech manipulation of videos of the U.S President & the House Speaker by rival groups earlier this year created headlines. Some other tech developments around the World later, but first things first…

LinkedIn deepfake Spy

The real problem starts when advanced Deep Learning algorithms are employed to create real-life images. This is equivalent of giving machines the gift of imagination. A deepfake is basically created by pitting two computer programs against each other – which are called Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs. This form of Artificial Intelligence has become an increasing concern for policymakers & the scientific community as it gets used around for nefarious purposes. Last week, an Artist uploaded an AI-generated video of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Instagram to make a point about GANs & Facebook has promised not to take it down.


But the biggest news that blew the issue wide open was a LinkedIn user by the name Katie Jones (pictured above), who appeared on the platform & started connecting with the Who’s Who of the Political Elite in Washington DC. The detailed report by Associated Press brought the issue of online forgery to the forefront & how easy it is to use Professional networks like LinkedIn to spy on other people. The report goes on to determine that the profile of the 30-something redhead boasting of a job at a top think tank was actually a phantom profile lurking on the social media platforms like LinkedIn.

Many of the experts who reviewed the profile determined that the picture was a work of Computer-generated imagery with subtle variations that can be seen on close inspection, as shown in the picture above. They agree that it is an example of a typical GAN & could even have been a state-run operation – the profile been removed mysteriously, ever since  the report surfaced. Scary enough? try these two websites to see how realistic & dangerous these deepfakes have become!

5G Search & Rescue Airship

As the excitement around the official launch & adoption of 5G networks builds on the expectation of providing faster mobile networks, a South Korean company aims to utilize the futuristic network to launch an innovative new service in the shape of a 5G-connected Airship to be used for search & rescue missions (video above). The Skyship project, a brainchild of South Korea’s telecom giant KT Corp is bringing science fiction to reality with this unmanned flyer which can carry eight drones using high-definition cameras & thermal imaging to search for life signs in disaster zones. The drones can fly 100 kilometers from a control center with the Starship Airtime of 11 hours. Additionally, the Skyship robots can be deployed on the ground to deliver first aid to injured people while creating a live link between the medics through onboard cameras. This is a case of technology put to good use.

Planes without Pilots

In related news, earlier at the Paris Air Show, the aviation giant Airbus announced that it has the technology to develop Pilot-less Planes and is currently in the process of convincing the regulators & travelers about the idea. While the electric cars are heading towards mainstream adoption within the next decade or so, Airbus also expects to have a hybrid or electric passenger planes ready by 2035. According to a recent survey from Ansys, 70% of the respondents said they expect to fly without a pilot in their lifetime while 58% are considering doing that in the next decade or so. What about you?


AR for your Car

Augmented Reality has been used in Apps & video games for a while now but the technology is moving on to more useful roles in cars like Mercedes, BMW and Land Rover. To provide a quick refresher, AR is different from VR (Virtual Reality) – while the former provides a layer of data over reality using visuals, the latter creates an entirely different virtual world. AR can also add & subtract things using touch and sound. GMC’s 2020 pickups will offer a transparent trailer view option as shown above, while Land Rover is using a similar AR trick to make the front of a 2020 Evoque disappear so that you can easily navigate difficult terrain. Mercedez, on the other hand, is pioneering AR navigation in its latest A-Class models where you can see the navigation instructions over different objects in a real-time camera view.

Textract Machine Learning

And finally, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched Textract – a Cloud-based fully managed Machine Learning utility which can extract data for you from tables, forms, and whole pages of text and data. Albeit, it is only available in select U.S regions for now with expansion planned for next year. Textract is a powerful tool which supports different image formats including scans, PDFs & Photos and a range of document formats as well with the results presented in the form of JSON text. A number of AWS commercial clients are already using the tool to perform smart searches on thousands of documents within a short period of time. Now, Only if I can find something to parse my blog to look for different terms…

Stay tuned for more interesting stuff from the Tech World.

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Faisal Khan Faisal is based in Canada with a background in Finance/Economics & Computers. He has been actively trading FOREX for the past 11 years. Faisal is also an active Stocks trader with a passion for everything Crypto. His enthusiasm & interest in learning new technologies has turned him into an avid Crypto/Blockchain & Fintech enthusiast. Currently working for a Mobile platform called Tradelike as the Senior Technical Analyst. His interest for writing has stayed with him all his life ever since started the first Internet magazine of Pakistan in 1998. He blogs regularly on Financial markets, trading strategies & Cryptocurrencies. Loves to travel.

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