It’s a short video. Keegan Michael-Key is with the AFIs addressing an interviewer when Tom Cruise runs after him, jumping over his head in one go and doing stunts for the camera.
“I just want to jump in and wish you luck,” Cruise says. “Congratulations on the AFI awards. Congratulations on life. Congratulations on the look. Work on the humor a bit.” Then he offers a certified Cruise smile and leaves.
It would be a pretty unhinged moment for anyone not named Tom Cruise, but wait…is is it Tom Cruise?
When jokes fly over your head 😂✌️@Keegan-Michael Key
♬ original sound – Tom
It’s close, but as hundreds of thousands of viewers on Tiktok and other social media outlets pointed out, it’s not rather there. Maybe it’s the voice that’s just a hair too high. Maybe it’s the body that moves with just one small less precision than we’re used to from Cruise’s nuclear intensity. It’s not the face that looks like the money, but this video can’t quite escape the uncanny valley, even if it comes closer than many comparable deepfakes.
It’s the creation of Miles Fisher, who has been refining his Tom Cruise impersonation for some time now, with a little help from Belgian visual effects specialist Chris Umé. The pair use deepfake technology, which feeds thousands of images of whoever you’re trying to imitate into a learning algorithm that then maps those images over the face of the imitator.
The quality of the result depends on a number of factors, such as how committed the impersonator is and how many photos you have to work with. But if you’re like Fisher, who has a pretty decent Tom Cruise voice, and you work with as many existing photos and videos as Cruise does, the results can be very compelling.
It’s pretty fun for something like this, and Fisher has built a big following on Tiktok with it. But experts are concerned about the possible dark side of the technology. Websites like Reddit have had to crack down on deepfake pornography, which can map a person’s face to sexually explicit videos. Famous women are easy targets for deepfake porn, and a few have expressed horror and disgust at seeing their likeness hijacked for such clips. “Nothing can stop anyone from cutting and pasting my image or anyone else’s onto another body and make it look as eerily realistic as desired,” said Scarlett Johansson in 2018. “The fact is, you’re yourself. trying to protect against the internet and its depravity is basically a lost cause… The internet is a huge wormhole of darkness that is eating itself.”
But even non-famous women have become targets of deepfakes. Customers can pay deepfake creators to create realistic-looking pornographic videos of neighbors, co-workers, exes and friends. All they need is time and a decent catalog of photos, such as Instagram and Facebook. These videos can become part of someone’s private porn stash, or they can also be used as blackmail. The law is still years behind in figuring out the legal consequences of deepfakes, but for now the effect on the lives of some women is already very real.
And even that is just the tip of the iceberg, as deepfake technology can be used for purposes far beyond targeting individuals. Experts warn of a future where deepfakes could be used during election cycles to make it look like a candidate said something they didn’t say, or in a war to make it look like an opposing political leader did something they didn’t. had done.
“For people who are not high profile, or not profile at all, it can hurt your job prospects, your interpersonal relationships, your reputation, your mental health,” feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, who has been the target of a deepfake, told me. The Washington Post. “It is used as a weapon to silence women, degrade women, show power over women and reduce us to sex objects. This is not just a matter of fun and games. This can destroy lives.”