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Deepfake tech is being used to create fictitious faces, cats, and Airbnbs

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Deepfake technology has caused a stir with the eerily realistic but completely fake depictions it can produce of celebrities, such as Scarlett Johansson appearing in porn videos and former President Barack Obama calling Trump a “dips—.”

Now, a crop of websites have emerged that highlight just how pervasive and consequential the technology is likely to become.

ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com serves up a rotating gallery of pictures of different faces — but each face is completely fake and computer-generated.

The site can create these AI-based faces using something called a generative adversarial network (a GAN). As The Next Web explains, these GANs pit two algorithms against each other — a generator and a judge. The generator creates fake depictions of something and attempts to fool the judging algorithm into believing it’s legit. Each item that the GAN spits out is an iteration of where the generator was successful in beating the judge.

However, ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com uses a specific algorithm called StyleGAN, developed by AI company Nvidia. The code was first published in a research paper, but is publicly available for use on GitHub. (Nvidia declined to comment because the paper is currently under peer review, during which it can’t talk about it with the media “according to submission rules.”)

Several other sites have used StyleGAN to develop similar sites showing fake cats, fake anime characters and even fake Airbnb listings.

A developer behind one of these websites explained that he took on the project in order to demonstrate an important point about AI and neural networks: This technology can be used to easily fool people into believing fake and doctored images. Experts have raised concerns that these sophisticated tools could be weaponized for furthering fake news and hoaxes.

“This means that just about anyone with a couple hours to kill could create something just as compelling as I did,” Chris Schmidt writes on his website, ThisAirbnbDoesNotExist.com. “[AI is] now sufficiently advanced that they can often fool folks, especially if they’re not looking very hard.”

Check out all the different ways the technology is being used to create fake pictures that raise troubling questions about our perception of reality:

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