No-one who’s been paying attention should be in the last surprised that AI-synthesized faces are now so good. However, we should probably be a bit concerned that research seems to suggest that they seem to be rated as “more trustworthy” than real human faces.
The recommendations by researchers for “incorporating robust watermarks into the image and video synthesis networks” are kind of ridiculous to enforce in practice, so we need to ensure that we’re ready for the onslaught of deepfakes.
This is likely to have significant consequences by the end of this year at the latest, with everything that’s happening in the world at the moment…
Synthetically generated faces are not just highly photorealistic, they are nearly indistinguishable from real faces and are judged more trustworthy. This hyperphotorealism is consistent with recent findings. These two studies did not contain the same diversity of race and gender as ours, nor did they match the real and synthetic faces as we did to minimize the chance of inadvertent cues. While it is less surprising that White male faces are highly realistic—because these faces dominate the neural network training—we find that the realism of synthetic faces extends across race and gender. Perhaps most interestingly, we find that synthetically generated faces are more trustworthy than real faces. This may be because synthesized faces tend to look more like average faces which themselves are deemed more trustworthy. Regardless of the underlying reason, synthetically generated faces have emerged on the other side of the uncanny valley. This should be considered a success for the fields of computer graphics and vision. At the same time, easy access (https://thispersondoesnotexist.com) to such high-quality fake imagery has led and will continue to lead to various problems, including more convincing online fake profiles and—as synthetic audio and video generation continues to improve—problems of nonconsensual intimate imagery, fraud, and disinformation campaigns, with serious implications for individuals, societies, and democracies.