Deepfake technology is quite something. Professionals in this field are able to put together realistic looking videos, complete with a realistic voice of almost anyone. This is troubling technology as it allows any words to be put into someone’s mouth, very convincingly.
Channel 4 in the UK aired an alternative Christmas message from “Queen Elizabeth” with the intent of giving “stark warning” about fake news in the digital age. In this message, the Queen appears to talk about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to leave the UK, and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York’s decision to step down from royal duties earlier this year after an interview he gave to the BBC about his relationship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The video, created by Oscar-winning VFX studio Framestore, seems to be made as to easily spot it as fake. Deepfake voices are very convincing but Channel 4 chose to go with an impersonator instead, which makes the video less realistic. With a Christmas speech every year from Queen Elizabeth II, they could have easily created a deepfake of the Queen’s iconic voice.
This troubling technology may be used to bring “bring people back to life”, like the hologram of Robert Kardashian Sr. that Kanye West had made for Kim Kardashian.
But, Deepfakes can also be used to create division by putting words in politicians mouths and spreading fake videos online, tricking even the more observant person.
Take a look at this clip of the deepfake video of the Queen that aired.
For comparison, here is the Queen’s Christmas message from 2019.
To learn more about deepfake voices, I recommend the episode “Deepfake Dallas” from the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz.