New deepfake research is attempting to resurrect victims of crime for the common good. Of course, like all deepfakes, this too raises ethical concerns.
How new deepfake research brings people “back from the dead”
Deepfakes are a technology that uses artificial intelligence to create hyper-realistic images and videos of people. But so far, they’ve largely been misused to spread misinformation.
Now, researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Michigan are now exploring the possibility of using deepfake resurrections to promote the public good.
Their study focuses on “deepfake resurrections.” This refers to bringing deceased individuals virtually “back to life” using AI-generated images and videos. The researchers emphasize that their approach is different from controversial cases of deepfake resurrections, such as the ones used for political manipulation or commercial purposes. Instead, they aim to explore scenarios where deepfake resurrections could have a positive impact on society.
Can this technology be used for good?
The researchers conducted a study involving approximately 2,000 participants to explore the potential applications of deepfake resurrections. In this study, they focused on creating deepfake resurrections of victims of drunk driving and domestic violence. The aim was to examine the reactions of the participants and assess whether such resurrections could effectively raise awareness about these pressing social issues.
By using deepfake resurrections to share the stories of these victims, the researchers sought to humanize the issues and evoke empathy in the audience.
However, the PSA had little effect and a more negative than positive reaction. The researchers chalked this up to the lack of trust in deepfakes overall, noting that this affected the effectiveness of deepfake resurrections in raising awareness about social issues.
The exploration of deepfake resurrections for the public good raises several ethical questions. One major concern is consent. Since the deceased cannot provide consent, the researchers suggest obtaining permission from the deceased’s estate or family members. This would require creating guidelines to ensure that deepfake resurrections are used in a manner that respects the individual’s legacy and values.
Another ethical consideration is the potential emotional impact on the deceased’s loved ones. While some may find comfort in deepfake resurrections, others might perceive it as a disturbing or disrespectful act. To address this concern, researchers propose involving mental health professionals in the development of deepfake resurrections to ensure they are created with sensitivity and empathy.
Lastly, there is the question of authenticity. The researchers acknowledge the potential for deepfake resurrections to spread misinformation or perpetuate false narratives. To mitigate this risk, they suggest that deepfake resurrections should be transparently labeled as such and accompanied by disclaimers.