Programmers turn Obama into a virtual robot

A revolutionary computer program is raising major concerns among the public. The new technology can edit clips of people speaking to realistically make it appear like they said something else has been created. Many are worried that this will lead to videos being altered online.

At the University of Washington, researchers have used the program to lip-sync a video of former President Barack Obama and superimpose new audio onto the clip.

They put words in Obama’s mouth by converting audio sounds into mouth movements and mixing them onto an existing video of his speech. The results are so realistic, it is impossible to tell it was edited.

The researchers support their creation by saying the effect could be used in special effects and improve the quality of video calls.

Steve Seitz, co-author of the research and professor at the University of Washington, said the following:

“When you watch Skype or Google Hangouts, often the connection is stuttery and low-resolution and really unpleasant, but the audio is pretty good. So if you could use the audio to produce much higher-quality video, that would be terrific.”

The programming is quite complex; it uses artificial intelligence to analyze existing videos online or elsewhere and produce realistic simulations from them. Having to also take into account mouth shapes and sound patterns. The mechanism could be used to manipulate videos to create realistic-looking fake clips.

“You can’t just take anyone’s voice and turn it into an Obama video,” assured Seitz. “We very consciously decided against going down the path of putting other people’s words into someone’s mouth.”

Despite the uneasiness of having a video of yourself being easily manipulated, there is a way to check if a video has been played with. The researchers added that their program could also be reversed to make a verification tool. Videos fed into the system could be checked to see whether they are real or not.

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