when artificial intelligence brings your ancestors back to life


Image by Victor Hugo after MyHeritage.
Image of Victor Hugo after MyHeritage. (DAILYMOTION SCREENSHOTS)

You may have seen these images of Victor Hugo or Napoleon appearing on your social networks, smiling, blinking or even nodding. Real-life video animations. You may have even had fun yourself animating a portrait of one of your ancestors to bring it to life. The result is astonishing, quite disturbing even. This is what the American genealogy site MyHeritage offers.

The AI ​​behind this magic trick is called Deep Nostalgia. It was developed by the specialist Israeli company, D-ID. “Deep” like “deep learning” and like “deepfakes”, these fake videos larger than life, generated by artificial intelligence. Some users have gone so far as to animate figures of paintings, photos of statues or Egyptian mummies.

Technically, the program only needs one still image. First, it improves it by increasing the resolution, to make it sharper. Then, the person’s face is plastered over a short, pre-recorded video clip, with movements of the eyes, mouth and head. Finally, artificial intelligence mixes the two to bring the photo to life. The process only takes a minute or two. The system can only animate faces, it is not possible at this time to create bodily movements, but it may come one day.

Another example of deepfakes. In recent days, social networks have vibrated to the rhythm of videos of Tom Cruise, quite incredible realism. We see the American actor playing golf or falling to the ground, and bursting into laughter, his characteristic thunderous laughter. At first glance, you can’t tell if this is true or if it is not. The 20minutes site raised the hare and the answer is: false. He is most likely a Tom Cruise lookalike actor who has been plastered with the actor’s real face, animated by artificial intelligence. A job that undoubtedly required long hours of computer processing.

As has been predicted for some time, deepfakes risk making the world that comes very complicated, if it is no longer possible to tell the true from the false on video.


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