Last month, Motherboard reported on a Redditor using deep learning technology to map female celebrities’ faces onto pornographic performers, with startlingly lifelike results. By scanning a bunch of images of a celebrity’s face, the software was able to imagine what they’d look like grafted into a given video—a powerful technology being used in one of the worst possible ways. The result barrels past legal and ethical boundaries, raising a whole host of free speech issues regarding the women whose likenesses are being used without their consent. There are surprisingly few legal recourses for them, at least in America.
The technology also opens up the door to a very near future in which we won’t be able to trust video evidence—long the gold standard, at least in the court of public opinion. This could be particularly damning in the political realm, where (say it with us) “fake news” and the very nature of reality is somehow now open to partisan interpretation. Last week, Motherboard followed up on the original piece with reports of the existence of FakeApp, a piece of software that makes creating these fakes so user-friendly that an entire new subreddit has sprung up, devoted to their creation.
A trip into that den yields countless images of horrified, malfunctioning automatons performing for the godless pleasures of their creator, and also a whole shitload of Nic Cage, because after porn, the internet makes memes. Here is Nic Cage superimposed over Andy Samberg pretending to be Nic Cage:
Here he is as James Bond in Dr. No:
Replacing Harrison Ford in Raiders Of The Lost Ark:
Finally getting that role in Superman for which he’d always yearned:
And, in just the tip of the iceberg as far as inter-meme cross-pollination goes, taking over for Aidan Gillen as “C.I.A.” in The Dark Knight:
These are at once entertaining, technologically impressive, and creepy as all hell, existing on the other side of the uncanny valley, believable but still “off.” The technology is immensely powerful and only getting more believable and easy to use, which means we will absolutely be seeing much more like this, as well as more hideously invasive and demeaning uses like those on the larger subreddit. Wired reports that the creator of FakeApp could be liable for damages in cases in which the technology was used to create “nonconsensual porn,” but it is unclear what legal recourse, if any, will be available to us in the Cage-filled dystopia we are set to enter.
One more for the road: