Zoom backgrounds are SO 3 weeks ago. Zoom deepfakes could be the next big thing

There’s a new way to one-up your coworkers.


April 17, 2020

Let’s be real: You can only put the Tiger King in your Zoom background so many times before the joke gets old.

But what if you could be the Tiger King?

Thanks to a nifty open-source program called Avatarify, the dream/your coworkers’ nightmare appears to be within reach.

All you need is a speedy computer and a good pic

A programmer named Ali Aliev built Avatarify using code that manipulates a photo of a person using video of someone else — in real time.

The result is a crude deepfake — a digitally manipulated clip cooked up to make it seem like someone said something they didn’t.

Futurists have worried for a while that full-scale deepfakes could upend politics (in fact, an Indian politician used one to reach voters who speak different dialects). Some states have made it illegal for creeps to use deepfakes in revenge porn.

Avatarify isn’t THAT sketchy…

… because it’s more like a diet deepfake. Aliev posted demo videos showing how he transformed himself into Steve Jobs, the Mona Lisa, and a Zoombombing Elon Musk.

The tool does a decent job of moving a photo’s mouth and eyes, but the movements are still pretty clearly fake. And Avatarify doesn’t do anything to transform your voice into the dulcet tones of Joe Exotic.

Motherboard pointed out that audio deepfakes are on the rise, so maybe the dream/nightmare lives on after all. They’d just be Zoom’s latest headache — yesterday, Verizon said it’s buying BlueJeans, a major Zoom rival.

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