'60 Minutes' reporter gets the deepfake treatment as he explores the potentially dangerous technology
On Sunday’s edition of 60 Minutes, journalist Bill Whitaker went deep into the world of deepfakes and synthetic media, where artificial intelligence is used to make images and videos that are fake but look hyper-realistic.
Whitaker had a deepfake video made that aged him back 30 years, and even had the ability to take away his mustache. He also had a synthetic avatar made of himself that was able to speak words he never actually spoke, only typed into a computer, exactly as he would say them.
While deepfakes can be used for fun, like the popular Tom Cruise deepfakes on TikTok, Whitaker spoke to one of the first people to write a book on the topic, Nina Schick, who called the technology a “game changer” when it comes to disinformation. Especially due to how fast it is evolving.
“By five to seven years, we are basically looking at a trajectory where any single creator, so, a YouTuber, a TikToker, will be able to create the same level of visual effects that is only accessible to the most well-resourced Hollywood studio today,” Schick said.
Whitaker pointed out that most deepfakes are protected free speech, and that legislation has been all over the map in different parts of the country. The problem is, not only is the government trying to keep up with the rapidly improving technology, the general public as a whole is still very much in the dark about what this technology is, and what it’s capable of.
Some viewers took to Twitter with reactions ranging from “mind blown” to being “reawakened” to issuing an even more stern warning about how potentially dangerous this could be.
For the 2nd Sunday in a row 60 minutes blew my mind. #deepfake
— onida perkel (@OPerkel) October 11, 2021
That 60 minutes spot tonight reawakened the part of my brain that worries about AI and deep fake tech.
— Bob Flynn (@bobjinx) October 11, 2021
A deep fake is not protected speech. I don't care what you say
— Nathan Ber (@strivetopurpose) October 11, 2021
I just watched @60Minutes do a segment on Deep Fakes and now I think everyone on TV is a deep fake.
— Valerie Heruska (@ValerieHeruska) October 11, 2021
If anyone saw 60 Minutes story on Deep Fake Technology tonight: that was a fluff piece that told about 10% of the story. It's here, it's real, and it is no joke...
— LowOrderPrimate (@Loworderprimate) October 11, 2021
Schick said that just gaining a better understanding of what this technology is would be a good place to start as society deals with this more and more in the future.
“A lot of people still don't know what a deepfake is, what synthetic media is, that this is now possible,” Schick said. “The counter to that is, how do we inoculate ourselves and understand that this kind of content is coming and exists without being completely cynical? Right? How do we do it without losing trust in all authentic media? That's going to require all of us to figure out how to maneuver in a world where seeing is not always believing.”
But like the deepfake version of Whitaker said during this report: “The possibilities are endless, and a little frightening.”
60 Minutes airs Sunday evenings on CBS, check your local listings for time.
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