Ever since Russia invaded his country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has encouraged his people to fight. But in early March, a new video of Zelenskyy appeared on social media. He had a shocking new message.
He was telling his people to put down their weapons and surrender.
But wait a minute. Something seemed . . . wrong. The president’s accent sounded off. His head looked strange.
This wasn’t a video of President Zelenskyy at all. This was a Russian deepfake.
Social media platforms quickly removed the deceptive video. But people had already shared it and commented on it. The video had even made it to Ukrainian TV.
Such realistic fakeries used to take whole Hollywood studios to produce. But now almost anyone can create them from home with the power of artificial intelligence.
Want to make a video of your friend look like it actually features Donald Trump? Don’t painstakingly animate every frame. Just download a deepfake app. Start by feeding the program sample videos of the person you want to copy. The more footage you have, the more the program can learn. The program uses these samples to build a face map. You can apply that face to any video of any person—as long you have the patience to wait for all that data to process!
Some artists use this technology for entertainment. The popular Star Wars franchise has used deepfakes to bring a young Luke Skywalker back to the screen. Content creators on YouTube use deepfakes to imagine other actors in their favorite movie roles.
But many fear the dangers of this technology—with good reason. Russia used a deepfake of the Ukrainian leader to try to win a war. Deepfake creators could make fake videos of politicians to influence elections. And if you get caught on camera doing something bad, you can just say, “It was a deepfake!”
The Bible tells us to put away falsehood and speak the truth. When companies like Disney use deepfakes to bring back old characters, everyone knows it’s just an actor on a screen. But when deepfake creators use the technology to tell lies about other people, that’s slander—and it’s a sin. God hates slander so much that He says that one who slanders a neighbor deserves destruction. (Psalm 101:5)
Experts worry the line between true and false will be blurred forever. If we can’t trust videos, what can we trust?
The answer, of course, is that we can trust the God of truth. Because He’s stronger than any lie—even deepfakes.
Why? New technologies like deepfakes can open exciting possibilities. They also can be used for evil. But when truth is in doubt, we can trust the God of truth.