Pomidor Quixote and Andrew Anglin
August 25, 2019
Kosher intellectual and establishment-approved political dissident Dr. Jordan Peterson has written a piece warning about a technology known as Deepfake after discovering a website offering a text-to-speech tool allowing people to type in anything and have Jordan Peterson’s voice say it.
He warns that this must be stopped before we can no longer tell what’s real from what’s not.
Something very strange and disturbing happened to me recently. If it was just relevant to me, it wouldn’t be that important (except perhaps to me), and I wouldn’t be writing this column. But it’s something that is likely more important and more ominous than we can even imagine.
In April of this year, a company called Coding Elite exposed an artificial intelligence (AI) program that took a substantial sample of my voice, which is easily accessible on the YouTube lectures and podcasts that I have posted over the last years. In consequence, they were able to duplicate my manner of speaking with exceptional precision, starting out by producing versions of me rapping Eminem songs such as Lose Yourself (which has now garnered 250,000 views) and Rap God (which has only garnered 17,000) as well as Rock Lobster (1,400 views). They have done something similar with Bernie Sanders (singing Dancing Queen), Donald Trump (Sweet Dreams) and Ben Shapiro, who also delivered Rap God. The company has a model, the address of which you can find on their YouTube channel, which allows the user to make Trump, Obama, Clinton or Sanders say anything whatsoever.
Recently, however, a company called notjordanpeterson.com put an AI engine online that allows anyone to type anything and have it reproduced in my voice. It’s hard to get access to or use the site, at the moment, presumably because it is currently attracting more traffic than its servers can handle. A variety of sites that pass themselves off as news portals — and sometimes are — have either reported this story straight (Sputnik News) or had a field day (Gizmodo) having me read, for example, the SCUM manifesto (hypothetically an acronym for Society for Cutting Up Men), a radical feminist rant by Valerie Solanas published in 1967. Solanas, by the way, later shot the artist Andy Warhol, an act, driven by her developing paranoia. He was seriously wounded, requiring a surgical corset to hold his organs in place for the rest of his life. TNW takes a middle path, reporting the facts of the situation with little bias but using the system to have me voice very vulgar phrases.
Some of you might know — and those of you who don’t should — that similar technology has also been developed for video. This was reported, for example, by the BBC, as far back as July 2017, when it broadcast a speech delivered by an AI Obama, that was essentially indistinguishable from the real thing. Similar technology has been used, equally notoriously, to superimpose the faces of famous actresses on porn stars, while they perform their various sexual exploits. Movies have also been reshot so that the main actor is transformed from someone unknown to someone with real box office draw. This has happened, for example, to Nicolas Cage, primarily on a YouTube site known as Derpfakes, a play on “deepfakes,” which is what the video recordings created fraudulently by AI have come to be known. More recently Ctrl Shift Face, a YouTube channel, posted a video showing Bill Hader transforming very subtly into Tom Cruise as he performs an impression of the latter on Dave Letterman’s show. It’s picked up four million views in a week. It’s important to note that this ability is available to amateurs. I don’t mean people with no tech knowledge whatsoever, obviously — more that the electronic machinery that makes such things possible will soon be within the reach of everyone.
I can tell you from personal experience, for what that’s worth, that it is far from comforting to discover an entire website devoted to allowing whoever is inspired to do so to produce audio clips imitating my voice delivering whatever content the user chooses — for serious, comic or malevolent purposes. I can’t imagine what the world will be like when we will truly be unable to distinguish the real from the unreal, or exercise any control whatsoever on what videos reveal about behaviours we never engaged in, or audio avatars broadcasting any opinion at all about anything at all. I see no defense, and a tremendously expanded opportunity for unscrupulous troublemakers to warp our personal and collective reality in any manner they see fit.
Wake up. The sanctity of your voice, and your image, is at serious risk. It’s hard to imagine a more serious challenge to the sense of shared, reliable reality that keeps us linked together in relative peace. The deepfake artists need to be stopped, using whatever legal means are necessary, as soon as possible.
Dr. Peterson also noted that it was reported that in order to generate the rap videos with his voice, the technology only required six hours of actual recordings.
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and any other companies with access to your computer’s microphone are going to have access to a sample pool of your voice much bigger than what was used to fake Jordan Peterson’s voice.
Presumably, these companies – or the governments that have access to the data these companies hold – could come up with much more accurate fakes of you than the fake that was manufactured of the celebrity Peterson.
Worrying about “amateurs” being able to use this technology when there are much bigger players with a much more powerful hand to play is naive and short-sighted.
We don’t really know how far the military and private research has taken this kind of technology. We don’t really know what the current state of technology in general is and we don’t even know what technology is in the hands of every party in this board game.
One would need omniscience to be able to enforce a worldwide ban on a technology.
There is no way to stop this technology. Laws banning it would just result in it being further developed in secret.
People don’t even know what’s really going on in Area 51.
If we really can’t distinguish fake audio and fake video from real audio and real video, is that really a bad thing? It would strip the authority that these “recordings” have.
No one will be able to believe anything they didn’t see themselves, everyone will question everything.
If we made them illegal, it would just allow the people who have the technology to use it secretly, without being questioned.
Peterson isn’t concerned about the effects of this technology, because it is simply too obvious that the effects of banning it are much more damaging than the effects of promoting it. Peterson is simply worried about brand control, and doesn’t want his voice showing up promoting The Ralph Retort or saying “I eat poop and am a homosexual.”
We managed to have civilization and law before having video and audio, so if video and audio end up being as “believable” as video games are today, we’ll manage.
Perhaps we’ll even be better off.