How Fake News Will Get Worse

This past April a new video of Barack Obama surfaced on the Internet. Against a backdrop that included both the American and presidential flags, it looked like many of his previous speeches. Wearing a crisp white shirt and dark suit, Obama faced the camera and punctuated his words with outstretched hands: “President Trump is a total and complete dipshit.”

Without cracking a smile, he continued. “Now, you see, I would never say these things. At least not in a public address. But someone else would.” The view shifted to a split screen, revealing the actor Jordan Peele. Obama hadn’t said anything—it was a real recording of an Obama address blended with Peele’s impersonation. Side by side, the message continued as Peele, like a digital ventriloquist, put more words in the former president’s mouth.

In this era of fake news, the video was a public service announcement produced by BuzzFeed News, showcasing an application of new artificial-intelligence (AI) technology that could do for audio and video what Photoshop has done for digital images: allow for the manipulation of reality.

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