Capture may sound like science fiction, but real-time Deepfake technology is here


Capturing the first series introduced viewers to the practice of “correction”. This is when – for his defenders in the intelligence services – CCTV footage is fabricated to replicate the crimes they to know arrived but could not otherwise prove happened in court. For its critics, including potential DCI whistleblower Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger), correction is the state trampling on the justice system and its citizens by tampering with evidence for its own ends. Goodbye innocent until proven guilty, hello guilty if it suits MI5, the CIA, the Chinese Ministry of State Security or the Russian foreign intelligence service to “prove” your guilt.

Correction is the dirty secret of the global intelligence community, says Capturing the second series Interior Secretary (Andy Nyman). No country can afford to exhibit it because everyone else does. This is why, when a live Newsnight interview with Isaac Turner MP (Paapa Essiedu) is hacked and Turner is replaced by a real-time deepfake version of himself – a hyper-realistic computer-generated puppet for his enemies to say and do as they please – UK Government covers it at the top. If they cried foul play, they would only be revealing their own questionable practices.

Isaac Turner MP is the character we last saw confronted by his doppelganger at the end of episode four. His likeness was digitally recreated using deepfake techniques several times in series two. As Britain’s security minister and head of the China Research Committee investigating a Chinese bid for a national facial-recognition security contract, Turner’s digital puppet is a powerful thing to harness. Whoever pulls his strings (China? CIA? Russia?) no longer has to blackmail politicians to steer them in a certain direction, they can just put words in their digital mouths. To imagine.

Real-time deepfakes are already here. Thanks in large part to a grimy appetite for deepfake pornography — in which the faces of celebrities are digitally mapped onto those of sex artists at work — we have the technology. From TikTok influencers swapping their own faces for Hollywood stars for hijinks, it’s a small step towards deep “camgirls,” where porn users will be able to interact online with a real sex worker sporting the celebrity face. map of their choice.

What’s available right now, however, apparently has nothing to do with what it looks like. Capturing. As reported on The Register, Metaphysic.ai’s findings on real-time deepfake app DeepFaceLive showed that moving the subject’s head sideways is enough to derail the realism of a deepfake.

The consensus seems to be that it’s only a matter of time before the technology catches up. And who even needs to move their head to the side when using a video conferencing service like Zoom? The static, frontal nature of such online video communication is a boon to cybercriminals, who have already managed to commit financial fraud by cloning voices and tricking employees into thinking they were talking to their corporate manager. Forbes here reports a Hong Kong bank manager who transferred $35 million to fraudsters who did just that in 2020.

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