“Deep learning is revolutionizing so many fields, from robotics to medicine and everything in between,” said Obama, who joined the class by video conference.
After speaking a bit more on the virtues of artificial intelligence, “Obama” made an important revelation: “In fact, this entire speech and video are not real and were created using deep learning and artificial intelligence.”
Amini’s video was, in fact, a deepfake—an AI-doctored video in which the facial movements of an actor are transferred to that of a target. Since first appearing in 2018, deepfake technology has evolved from hobbyist experimentation to an effective and dangerous tool. Deepfakes have been used against celebrities and politicians and have become a threat to the very fabric of truth.
HOW DO DEEPFAKES WORK?
Deepfake applications work in various ways. Some, like the Obama deepfake, transfer the facial movements of an actor to a target video. Others map the face of a target person onto other videos.
Like most contemporary AI-based applications, deepfakes use deep neural networks (that’s where the “deep” in deepfake comes from), a type of AI algorithm that is especially good at finding patterns and correlations in large sets of data. Neural networks have proven to be especially good at computer vision, the branch of computer science and AI that handles visual data.
Deepfakes uses a special type of neural-network structure called an “autoencoder.” Autoencoders are composed of two parts: an encoder, which compresses an image into a small amount of data; and a decoder, which decompresses the compressed data back into the original image. The mechanism is similar to those of image and video codecs such as JPEG and MPEG.
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Boston Dynamics' Spot Robodog Finds Work on a BP Oil Rig
Boston Dynamics’ four-legged canine-inspired Spot is by no means an old dog, but that doesn’t mean it can’t learn new tricks. The 55-pound robot, unveiled in 2016, has boarded BP’s Mad Dog oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, where it will master tasks including reading gauges, finding corrosion, mapping the facility, and sniffing out methane, according to Reuters.
CAN THIS AI HELP SMOKERS QUIT?
While COVID-19 remains an occupying force in our world, and a viable vaccine is still out of reach, dealing with the pandemic comes down to mitigating health risks while coping with stress. If you’re a smoker, that’s going to be tough on both accounts. This isn’t the Mad Men era; everyone knows the risks of tobacco use, but cessation of addictive substances isn’t easy.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla (for PC): Another Winner
The Assassin’s Creed series has taken us to numerous historical settings since its 2007 debut, including Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, and Revolutionary War-era America. The newest installment, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, details the Viking invasion of 9th Century England from the perspective of history’s most notorious raiders. Though Valhalla doesn’t introduce anything wholly new to the series, it’s an excellent PC game that follows in the footsteps of its equally exceptional predecessors, Origins and Odyssey.
Microsoft Xbox Series X: An Impressive Console
The newest Xboxes are here, packing plenty of power into boxier frames than ever. Microsoft’s entries into the latest console generation are the Xbox Series X, reviewed here, and the Xbox Series S ($299).
2020's Most Common Passwords Are Laughably Insecure
Chances are that if a password is easy for you to remember, a hacker can easily crack it. And despite years (and years) of tech companies warning consumers to use hard-to-crack passwords, plus two-factor authentication, people are still using laughably insecure codes.
THE BEST PRODUCTS OF 2020
It’s been a weird year.
Virtual Movie Night: How to Watch Netflix With Friends Using Teleparty
Many of us are facing a long winter indoors, thanks to the ongoing pandemic. And though we have video streaming to distract us, watching shows and movies is more fun with friends. You could get everyone on Zoom and press play at the same time, but there’s an easier way: Teleparty (formerly known as Netflix Party).
Apple Mac mini (M1, Late 2020): Most Polished, Potent Tiny Desktop
The Mac mini doesn’t get upgraded often, but when it does, it makes an impact well out of proportion to its trim dimensions. The 2018 Mac mini was a PCMag Editors’ Choice pick for its pep, connectivity, build quality, and limited upgradability. A slight variation on the same sheet music, played with little fanfare earlier this year, pumped up the two base models’ SSD capacity. The real update of this iconic little desktop is this one, and it’s a big-band extravaganza. Apple’s own highly integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC), the M1 brings the Mac mini to new performance highs, and while a few fundamentals have changed, the peppy performance, the reasonable mix of connectivity, and a new lower $699 starting price combine to make it one of the best values in compact computers, period. It easily earns our Editors’ Choice nod.
Optoma HD39HDR: Bright, Low-Lag Projector
Designed for gaming and for watching movies and TV, the Optoma HD39HDR is one of a growing number of 1080p home projectors that can accept a 4K UHD (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) HDR signal and downconvert the resolution to 1080p. Some projectors in this category accept the input without really offering any of the benefits that high dynamic range promises for a wider color gamut or range of brightness levels. Others, including the Optoma, make good use of HDR. In my tests, the HD39HDR delivered more-vibrant color and far better shadow detail when I played the 4K HDR versions of movies on my Blu-ray player than when playing the 1080p SDR versions of the same titles.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G Review: Perfect Balance of Power and Price
The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is everything you need and nothing else. Samsung pared down its flagship S20 series to a more palatable price, and the result is a value-minded standard-bearer to properly face up against the forthcoming iPhone 12 line. With fast performance, solid cameras, and often substantial discounts at major wireless providers, the S20 FE 5G becomes our default Android phone recommendation for 2020 as well as our Editors’ Choice.
BIDEN PLEDGES TO REJOIN PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT
“TODAY, THE TRUMP Administration officially left the Paris Climate Change Agreement,” tweeted President-elect Joe Biden on November 4, 2020. “And in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it.”
MATCHING INTERIOR MILLWORK
If one lacks professional expertise, installing crown moulding, replacing missing bits of casing or trim around windows, and retrofitting lost baseboards may be an exercise in frustration. Especially when nothing in an old house is square! First learn about the role of trimwork, building up profiles, turning corners with mitered and coped joints, and what tools to use where.
Supermarine Spitfire Elliptical Elegance
Showing off the flowing curves of a jaguar ready to pounce, a Spitfire snugs in close, its pilot a picture of concentration as he carefully places the airplane exactly where he wants. It’s a timeless image of a timeless design.
What the New President Means for Your Money
President-Elect Biden wants more consumer protections and perks for the middle class and seniors.
The Best and Worst Presidents for Stocks
Presidents don’t make or break the market by themselves, but they do have an impact.
White-crowned sparrows appear here in wintertime
When you see a mature White-crowned Sparrow, there is little doubt about how it got its name.
1st & Ten with JON FELICIANO
The Bills certainly missed Jon Feliciano throughout the first half of this season — and, boy, did the veteran offensive lineman make an immediate impact upon his return to the starting lineup.
The torture self justification of one very powerful Trump loathing anonymous republican.
YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE with Kal Penn
As we get closer to the election (national, state and local), we've all been thinking about the issues, what we want our next 4 years to be and who will get us to where we want to go. This month's cover is Kal Penn who we have enjoyed in House MD, Designated Survivor and of course the Harold and Kumar movies. Kal has always had an interest in civics and even took time from acting to serve during the Obama Administration as the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.
3 big thoughts
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