Must-See Tom Cruise Deepfakes Are A Wakeup Call To The Dangers Of AI Image Manipulation

tom cruise deepfake videos go viral and raise concerns
Deepfakes have been around for a few years now, and with each passing day, it seems as though the technology keeps getting better and more lifelike.  We saw this last year with a Back To The Future deepfake starring Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland, rather than real Doc and Marty. Now, deepfaker and visual effects artist Chris Ume has taken Tom Cruise’s face and put it on an actor to make a deepfake TikTok series, and it is wild.

For those who do not know, deepfakes are AI-generated images or video which can be made to look like a specific person. The way they work, in essence, is by training AI with millions of images of the targeted person. The trained AI is then paired with an actor who can portray the real person well enough to be convincing. With some solid editing and visual effects on top of the AI-generated face, you get very real lifelike deepfakes, as seen below from VFXChris Ume. You'll be surprised how good these are. If you weren't aware, you'd swear this was really Tom Cruise in the action. 

After the fake Tom Cruise TikToks went viral this week, the 31-year-old Belgian Ume spoke to The Times about his new now famous creation. He said that his goal with the videos was to “raise awareness around deepfake technology as he believes it is still relatively unknown by the public.” Moreover, though he believes that the technology should be more tightly regulated, he wants people to know that the quality achieved took months of work.

The biggest concern with technology such as this is that rather than a single person working on a pet AI and VFX project, a nation-state could manipulate another country politically. In late 2020, Microsoft launched a deepfake detection tool as the U.S came closer to election time, when deepfaking could have negative consequences if believed by the general populous. Hopefully, we will see governments pick up the tools, though, and perhaps regulate what can and cannot be done with deepfakes.
"I think there should be laws that help with the responsible use of AI and deepfakes, that's important. There'ss always going to be misuse of this technology, you can't avoid that." - Ume.
While awesome to behold, these fake Tom Cruise videos are also a little bit frightening as it will only become more difficult to tell what is actually real. While there could be good applications of the technology, as Ume explained, there will be some bad apples as well. We will have to see how this sort of technology is handled in the future, but in the meantime, let us know what you think of the Tom Cruise deepfakes in the comments below.