In a dank corner of the internet, it is possible to find actresses from Game of Thrones or Harry Potter engaged in all manner of sex acts. Or at least to the world the carnal figures look like those actresses, and the faces in the videos are indeed their own. Everything south of the neck, however, belongs to different women. An artificial intelligence has almost seamlessly stitched the familiar visages into pornographic scenes, one face swapped for another. The genre is one of the cruelest, most invasive forms of identity theft invented in the internet era. At the core of the cruelty is the acuity of the technology: A casual observer can’t easily detect the hoax.
This development, which has been the subject of much hand-wringing in the tech press, is the work of a programmer who goes by the nom de hack “deepfakes.” And it is merely a beta version of a much more ambitious project. One of deepfakes’s compatriots told Vice’s Motherboard site in January that he intends to democratize this work. He wants to refine the process, further automating it, which would allow anyone to transpose the disembodied head of a crush or an ex or a co-worker into an extant pornographic clip with just a few simple steps. No technical knowledge would be required. And because academic and commercial labs are developing even more-sophisticated tools for non-pornographic purposes—algorithms that map facial expressions and mimic voices with precision—the sordid fakes will soon acquire even greater verisimilitude.
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But here’s the catch. We can’t achieve and hold onto a masterful self on our own. Both cohorts of people that my colleagues and I studied took pride in their mastery, and took care to cultivate relationships that helped them endure and enjoy their independent and mobile working lives. They might have been nomads, but they needed a tribe.
Most of them swore by the value of networking, but they saw it as a necessary evil. They were constantly aware that they needed to keep doing it, and that every new conversation might help advance their work or set it back, turn into a source of revenues, support, or disappointment. This uncertainty kept them on edge.
In contrast to their expansive networks, the people we studied often described having a tight community, often a handful of people, who took the edge off their working lives. With those people, they were neither on show nor for sale.
Instead of demanding conformity in exchange for safety, such communities keep our working lives exciting and us stable, ultimately helping us master our working lives. Without them, those same lives might make us bored or too anxious.
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It’s time to find out if your Facebook FB 0.46% data was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. On Monday, Facebook Inc. said it would begin posting notices in users’ news feeds to inform them whether or not they’re among the estimated 87 million people affected. Everyone whose information might have been shared will have word by Tuesday, the company said.
More here at The Wall Street Journal