He’s sorry for faking us out.
The creator of recent, viral deepfake videos showing Tom Cruise practicing his golf swing, doing a magic trick and laughing at his own pratfall now says he did not mean to freak anyone out.
“I’d like to show people the technical possibilities of these things. I don’t intend to use it in any way where I would upset people — I just want to show them what’s possible in a few years,” Belgian visual effects artist Christopher Ume told the Guardian of the videos, which employ a Cruise impersonator, Miles Fisher, to pull off the ruse.
The series of startlingly lifelike videos — posted on a TikTok page titled “deeptomcruise” — featuring the faux action star emerged last week and have since accumulated millions of views and become a viral sharing sensation.
“I just strongly think that there should be laws to help with the responsible use of AI and deepfakes,” Ume said in the wake of his eye-opening — and eye-deceiving — endeavor.
Ume and Fisher had previously worked together on a YouTube web series that imagined a 2020 presidential campaign run by the 58-year-old “Mission: Impossible” actor.
“A month later, he contacted me again, and said: ‘Let’s make a funny video … I’ll film myself in my garden and then you just make me look like Tom Cruise,’ ” Ume remembered. “And so we did that and he posted it — but he also created a TikTok account. He doesn’t know anything about the app, I don’t either, but then two days later, he sends me a screenshot: ‘Dude. Two and a half million views.’ ”
The rest is fake history.
But Ume said he never intended to pull one over on the public; he simply wanted to step up his work game.
“When I started doing video and working on my projects, just in general, I always had a dream. I would like to work for Peter Jackson on ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ ” he told the Guardian. “I’m saying this in every interview: Hey, Peter, if you’re reading this, contact me.”
So-called deepfake technology has perplexed the public for years. In 2019, a freaky video fused Cruise’s face on that of “Barry” star Bill Hader during a 2008 interview on “Late Night with David Letterman.” And deepfake porn has even found a peculiarly specific pop culture target: K-pop stars.
Meanwhile, technology experts are slamming the infusion of deepfakes into pop culture and the world in general.
“Deepfakes will impact public trust, provide cover & plausible deniability for criminals/abusers caught on video or audio, and will be (and are) used to manipulate, humiliate, & hurt people,” Rachel Tobac, the CEO of online security company SocialProof, said in a recent tweet, adding they had “real world safety, political etc impact for everyone.”