Artificial intelligence: with the “deepfake”, how to make anyone say anything



Hollywood fans can see the result: Princess Leia rejuvenated in Star Wars or the heartbreaking farewell of the late Paul Walker in Fast and Furious. the “deepfake”, which uses artificial intelligence to digitally manipulate images, is making its way onto large and small screens. In 2020, the French series More beautiful life used it to integrate the face of actress Malika Alaoui on a lining, the heroine being deprived of filming because of contact with Covid-19.

→ EXPLANATION. These “deepfakes” that distort videos

“Face swapping is the most common use of deepfakebut this word covers different special effects”explains Vincent Claveau, CNRS researcher at Irisa (the Institute for Research in Computer Science and Random Systems). “The software of deepfake can transpose or invent facial expressions or gestures, based on actors. » Enough to transform a film into an experience in which you are the hero, for example. Thanks to so-called “GAN” algorithms (generative adversarial networks), they can also create digital avatars, which look just like real people.

For dubbing, the deepfake can be used to change the lip movement to match the exchange in the translated version. “For a short sequence without a close-up on the mouth, the special effects are invisible”confirms Slim Ouni, lecturer in computer science at the University of Lorraine. “But the faking can be seen at the level of the tongue and the corners of the lips. »

Use the image of actors with or without agreement

Where a montage or a ” mash-up » (a mixture of images or sounds), such as French comedy The American Class – The Great Diversion (1993) – which hijacks various film extracts – can only give another meaning to remarks or behavior that really took place, the deepfake can create them from scratch.

The technique is also often used in a malicious and reprehensible way. Some stars have thus seen themselves playing in pornographic productions against their will, while politicians are not immune to telling anything in a fake video more real than life.

→ DEBATE. Artificial intelligence: “We have already experienced too long a phase of blind trust”

Even the legal uses raise questions. Can we use the image of an actor to generate new scenes, which he would not have played? “In France, you can’t make anyone say anything”begins Alexandre Blondieau, lawyer at the Paris Bar and specialist in intellectual property law. “You either have to have the person’s agreement, or it must be a manifest and humorous trick, which does not affect. »

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What if the person is dead? “The right to the image disappears with the deceased person. But a right related to copyright comes into play for actors, and protects their performances for fifty years. Moral rights would also allow heirs to opposehe believes. For the moment, the case law is rather meager! » This did not prevent Robin Williams, who died in 2014, from specifying in his will that it was forbidden to use his image for twenty-five years after his death. What to guard against a cinematographic “renaissance”.

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