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2018-09-30
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Video Editing Simplicity Weakens Trusted Evidence

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As a society, we've already become accustomed to the commonplace of manipulated photos. After all, Photoshop has been around for a long time, nearly 28 years. Likewise, in the vein of photo manipulation, very advanced, computerized alternations are pretty "old" as there are already lots of researchers performing realistic manipulations - like the "Faux Objects" insertions ... (almost a decade ago). Only two years ago, Adobe unveiled software for fabricating near indiscernible audio manipulation which immediately cast doubt on the validity of audio recordings. The addition of audio to the untrusted media collection was pretty disconcerting, but even that is nothing now.

Video manipulation has rapidly reached a similar level of realism using advanced algorithms and even artificial intelligence. Even five years ago, researchers at the Technical University of Ilmenau in Germany developed software capable of removing objects from live, full-motion video.

Through a process called Semantic Soft Segmentation, MIT researchers have trained a system to automatically identify, select, and "cut" foreground objects for insertion into alternate backgrounds.

Researchers at UC Berkeley developed a system, where they "transfer motion between human subjects in different videos. Given two videos – one of a target person whose appearance we wish to synthesize, and the other of a source subject whose motion we wish to impose onto our target person – we transfer motion between these subjects via an end to end pixel-based pipeline." Effectively, a motion actor can take their actions and have them mapped onto another subject in their environment.

Combine the ability to forge audio, remove artifacts, swap environments, overlay actions, and manipulate imagery - it becomes too easy for anyone that cares enough to create just about any video "evidence" they desire. Look no further than "Deep Fakes" to understand a low-brow application of such technology. Even a "cheap," home-grown AI outperformed a studio special effects team at manipulating actor Henry Cavill in Superman. A cleaner example from three years ago was shown on the Ellen Show with the Pope or this current manipulation of Russian President Putin as demonstrated by Bloomberg.





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