The current chapter in AI development -- in which computers have figured out when a duck is a duck, but not how to make pyramids of our bleached skulls -- focuses on testing how good they can get at messing with our sense of reality. Most disturbing of all (if you ignore the eldritch abomination that is deep dream art) are "deepfakes," in which an AI is taught to swap faces in videos (consider the propagandistic and pornographic applications). But now, researchers are working on another use for deepfakes besides destroying our concept of digital consent: giving us moves like Jagger.
Last week, researchers at UC Berkeley released the funkily titled paper "Everybody Dance Now," in which they detail their new "do as I do" motion transfer system. They claim this deepfake-esque system can transfer someone's movement in a video onto someone else. To prove how well the system works, the researchers tried to copy/paste the movement of professional dancers onto amateurs trying out the same routines. But talk is cheap, so in the words of every dance movie ever, show us what you got:
Slick. The way the system achieves these smooth moves is by basically swapping skeletons, i.e. letting the movement of the professional dancer pull around the body of the target. This is done through a type of AI algorithm called generative adversarial networks (or GANS), whereby one network synthesizes video of the amateurs moving exactly like the pros, while another corrects all the flawed images of those poses like a merciless Soviet ballet teacher. Of course, the system is not without its bugs. Distortion and blurring happen all the time, and when the system tries to copy/paste something as complex and twirly as ballet, the subjects look less like instant black swans and more like androids having a stroke.
But perhaps one important thing to note, the researchers add, is that all of this is done without "expensive 3D or motion capture data," meaning this tech could easily be used by the public. Which means this has a horrifyingly high chance of becoming the next Auto-Tune craze. So if you suddenly start noticing that your YouTube sidebar is getting filled with videos of Obama doing crane kicks like Bruce Lee, at least you'll know why.
You'll never find him on a dance floor, but you can find Cedric on Twitter.
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