Hello dear readers and welcome back to yet another episode of “cool, but kinda scary news from the internet”, also, welcome to 2020!
The new year started just over a week ago and we already had a preview of a potential WWIII and an environmental catastrophe. Couldn't get any worse really. Or could it?
Anyways, much for Dan’s happiness, I shall retain myself from ranting about any of those things and focus on the virtual world; which for once seems to be less scary than the real one.
Well, that’s what one would think before seeing THIS:
You’ve just seen an example of Deepfake. Deepfakes are media that take a person in an existing image or video and replace them with someone else's likeness using artificial neural networks. 2020 could be the year that Deepfakes go viral:
Snapchat has acquired the computer vision start-up AI Factory for $166 million, and TikTok is working on a deepfake-style addition within its app, enabling users to create videos with their own face overlaid onto pre-recorded footage.
Snapchat’s feature will enable users to overlay their face over a selection of pre-made scenes, improving its capacity of overlaying image onto video content.
TikTok is working on a more direct deepfake-style feature, which asks users to take a multi-angle, biometric scan of their face and then enables them to add their image into a selection of videos.
Both of these developments are a bit concerning. These videos still don't look one hundred percent, as there are some elements where the edges blur or glitch slightly. But it's clear that the technology is improving fast, and while these examples are just for fun, for entertainment online, it's not hard to imagine the same technology being used for more dangerous purposes. What impact is it going to have on fake news or even revenge porn? And what's worse, even if such videos were proven to be fake in retrospect, once that initial damage is done, it could be too late. The potential for harm via Deepfake videos is significant.
That's why Facebook, Google and Twitter independently are all conducting pre-emptive research into how to detect and highlight deepfakes to avoid misinterpretation. As of yesterday, Facebook announced that it will remove videos modified by artificial intelligence, known as deepfakes, from its platform. TikTok has already been banned by the U.S. Navy and ByteDance’s acquisition and merger of Musical.ly into TikTok is under investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in The United States. Deepfake fears could further heightened scrutiny. I believe the cons of this new technology by far surpass its pros, so I for once agree with Facebook and would prefer them to be banned across all Social Media.
Moving on to something a bit more cheery!
We all remember home shopping networks. I personally never really understood their point, and I am clearly of the wrong generation to talk about them (especially since they’re still a constant on cable television). However, they might make a comeback!
Yes, as part of its eCommerce push, earlier this year, Facebook acquired video commerce startup Packagd, which, prior to the acquisition, had been focused on enabling users to make direct purchases of products via live-stream, unboxing-type videos. Packagd was building a shopping product for YouTube videos.
“Think of it as a re-imagination of QVC or a home shopping network” said founder Eric Feng. Facebook has confirmed the purchase, saying that the company is "exploring ways to let buyers easily ask questions and place orders within a live video broadcast." This is all part of Facebook’s push for in-platform purchases and its interest in building an app that is essential in many aspects of our everyday life. Payments, shopping, news, what is Facebook going to acquire next?
And I will conclude with my favourite news of the week: The 90’s style comeback!
Yes, my friends. Dust off your Britney Spears and your Backstreet Boys fantasy. Cuz Backstreet’s back, alright! Pinterest has listed its prediction of the top 20 trends of 2020, and guess what? The 90’s are one of them. These are the rising trends which are likely to gain even more traction in the year ahead:
90s Re-Run - 90s inspired fashion
Responsible Travel - Environmentally conscious travel tips
Internationally Inspired - Region-specific design and art inspiration
Beyond Binary - Products moving beyond gendered labels
Space Everything - Space travel and related themes
Re-wilding - Outdoor adventure
Finding Balance - Self-care tips and products
Pampered Pets - Advanced pet care
Home Hub - Home, and home office, improvement tips and devices
Conscious Consumption - Sustainable living tips and tools