VidCon kicks off with deepfake dilemma as its opening act

CNET | 7/10/2019 | Joan E. Solsman
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Fans at VidCon in 2016 celebrated online video star Joey Graceffa with masks of his face.

Not far from a frenzy of screaming tweens chasing online video stars, in a glass building overlooking Disneyland, VidCon will introduce a new celebrity to its pantheon: the dreaded video forgeries known as deepfakes.

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VidCon, which starts in earnest Thursday, is the world's biggest conference of online video and digital creators, but it's best known for its swarms of fans. About 75,000 people are expected to attend this year, most of them preteens, teens and their parents overrunning the Anaheim, California convention center in the hope of a close encounter with an online idol. Pockets of the swarming crowd tend to spontaneously combust into a screaming mob at the hint of an influencer nearby.

But this year, at the moment the expo halls open, the first thing on VidCon's agenda is a presentation about the risks of deepfakes as part of the an industry-focused track of panels and keynotes.

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"I fundamentally think this sort of synthetic video is going to be more and more important for online video," said Jim Louderback, the CEO of Vidcon. "I remember when we used to believe in photographs. We're going to say in a couple of years 'I remember when we used to believe in videos.'"

Computer manipulation of video has existed for decades, but deepfakes are video forgeries that can make people appear to be doing or saying things they never did, generated in an automated way with artificial intelligence. And rapid advances in deepfake technology mean these doctored clips are becoming both easier to make and harder to detect. At a time when even clunky video manipulations, like a slowed-down video of Nancy Pelosi, are effective tools of misinformation, the prospect of sophisticated deepfakes opens a mess of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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