The content below is the script of Season 2 Episode 19 of the Who’d a Thunk it? Podcast.

Recommendation Segment

  • Levar Burton short story podcast
    • Reading was always hard for me. I’m not entirely sure why but reading words off of a page and trying to comprehend them without my mind wandering to 5 different topics was (and still is) one of the most difficult tasks for me to accomplish.
    • But there was a magical TV program that ran when I was a kid that helped me realize how special reading could be.
    • Reading Rainbow!
      • Take a look, it’s in a book. A READING RAINBOW!
      • For 21 seasons Levar Burton hosted Reading Rainbow, a program that focused on the showing kids that reading could be an amazing experience. Something school NEVER did for me.
      • Burton said in an interview with the Huffington Post:
        • Reading Rainbow‘ was the most used television resource in our nation’s classroom. In 2009, it was [cancelled] due to No Child Left Behind. That government policy made a choice between teaching the rudiments of reading and fostering a love of reading.”
      • So yeah, where school made reading out to be a boring chore that had to be learned, this PBS show for kids made it interesting.
        • Shows like Bill Nye the Science Guy did something similar for the field of science.
      • But that’s not all Levar Burton is known for. He played Geordi La Forge on Star Trek the Next Generation and Kunta Kinte on possibly one of the most culturally moving TV miniseries of all time: Roots.
    • I made this recommendation segment to tell you about Levar’s current on-going project: Levar Burton Reads. A podcast where Levar Burton, the man who showed entire generations to love literature, reads short stories to you for free!
      • And they aren’t kids stories. His main audience is made up of people like me in their late 20’s all the way up to their 40’s.
      • If you are looking to hear a new story for 40 minutes to an hour, check out the Levar Burton Reads. It is sure to give you a slice of nostalgia while you are at it.

Now for the main story:

  • What is DeepFake?
    • Did you know I can make Donald Trump say anything I want?
      • Or at least I can convince you and a decent amount of the public of such a thing.
    • Using a technology known as DeepFake, I can create a convincing video of any celebrity.
    • Ian Sample from the Guardian writes : “The 21st century’s answer to Photoshopping, deepfakes use a form of artificial intelligence called deep learning to make images of fake events, hence the name deepfake. “
  • Progress of Technology
    • DeepFakes started out in Academia in labs dedicated to the field of Computer Vision back in the 1990’s. For a long time the technology was easy to spot and wasn’t really fooling anyone. Plus it was very expensive to create requiring some serious computer hardware and graphics processors to pull off.
      • But just as it is with most technology, DeepFake was improved little by little and now everyone with a SmartPhone can create deepfake videos through a number of downloadable applications.
    • Geoffrey A. Fowler from the Washington Post writes:
      • “A few years ago, deepfake videos — named after the “deep learning” artificial intelligence used to generate faces — required a Hollywood studio or at least a crazy powerful computer. Then around 2020 came apps, like one called Reface, that let you map your own face onto a clip of a celebrity. … Now with a single source photo and zero technical expertise, an iPhone app called Avatarify lets you actually control the face of another person like a puppet. Using your phone’s selfie camera, whatever you do with your own face happens on theirs. “
    • TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher elaborates on the massive growth of this technology.
      • “Run out of Moscow but with a U.S. HQ, Avatarify launched in July 2020 and since then has been downloaded millions of times. The founders say that 140 million deepfake videos were created with Avatarify this year alone. There are now 125 million views of videos with the hashtag #avatarify on TikTok. … its competitors include the well-funded Reface, Snapchat,, Mug Life and Xpression…”
  • what it is being useD FOR
    • Deepfake is used to create images of people who never existed.
      • Why? You might ask. Well similar to the example I gave in Season 2 Episode 2 “Falun Gong: the Cult You Should Be Watching Part 2.” Where the cult had fake social media accounts made to sway the opinion of American voters. The profile pictures they used were DeepFake people who never actually existed. Instead their faces were computer generated.
    • Audio deepfake is also a lucrative form of deception it seems. Scammers use deepfake to mimic people’s voices and authorize financial transactions in their name.
    • Ian Sample from the Guardian: “Many are pornographic. The AI firm Deeptrace found 15,000 deepfake videos online in September 2019, a near doubling over nine months. A staggering 96% were pornographic and 99% of those mapped faces from female celebrities on to porn stars. As new techniques allow unskilled people to make deepfakes with a handful of photos, fake videos are likely to spread beyond the celebrity world to fuel revenge porn. As Danielle Citron, a professor of law at Boston University, puts it: “Deepfake technology is being weaponised against women.” Beyond the porn there’s plenty of spoof, satire and mischief.”
    • Now one of the newest uses of DeepFake is DeepFake Geography
      • That may sound harmless, but geographic maps from satellites are a MAJOR part of modern warfare on our planet.
      • I have close friends that went to school for geo-mapping and now when I ask what they do for a living they are legally obligated to give me frustratingly vague descriptions.
      • Now that it is possible for DeepFake AIs to manipulate maps all over the globe… I would imagine it is turning heads of some very important people
      • An article published just last month on April 23rd 2021 to the website writes:
        • “In 2019, the director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the organization charged with supplying maps and analyzing satellite images for the U.S. Department of Defense, implied that AI-manipulated satellite images can be a severe national security threat.”
      • So this technology shouldn’t be taken lightly. It doesn’t just have the capability to tarnish the reputation of a few celebrities. It has the potential to affect our National Defense.
        • Professor Lilian Edwards, a leading expert in internet law at Newcastle University said it perfectly: “The problem may not be so much the faked reality as the fact that real reality becomes plausibly deniable.”
    • What it COULD be used for:
      • Now take a moment and ponder what sinister things this technology could be used for. …
      • Sure it is fun when you are showing your little baby cousin how to use the face altering filters on snap chat or Facebook messenger.
      • But what about when a malicious organization hacks in to media outlets and makes a fake presidential address to the nation?
      • I don’t mean to be a fear mongerer, but it would be foolish to not make others aware of real-world possibilities.
      • Blackmail, politics, fraud, heck with so many working from home DeepFake may even be used to make it appear as if someone is at their desk when they really aren’t.
    • Now the applications of DeepFake aren’t all malicious. Actually there are quite a lot of positive uses for DeepFake
      • Microsoft is working on a way to have DeepFake help the blind by describing the world around them.
      • It can be used in artistic expression
      • DeepFake has been used to enhance movies and assist with acting.
      • And of course DeepFake has made some hilarious memes.


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