Objectivity is dead

Objectivity is officially dead. Adobe killed it…with a little help.
Late last year Adobe demoed Project Voco, which has subsequently been dubbed the ‘Photoshop of Speech’, and frankly it was mind blowing.
The reaction you have to a technology, which allows words to be put into anyone’s mouth, will vary depending on who you are and what you do. As a filmmaker, I immediately thought of being able to abbreviate interviews with handy conjunctives or inserting sync missed on set. Indeed these are the primary reasons Adobe states for developing the software. However, It doesn’t take much of a leap to go to darker places. Immediately, fears for what this will mean for the veracity of audio evidence were raised by many voices.
Now enter the boffins at the Grail Lab who are developing real time facial puppetry tools that allow the user to create a mask of anyone’s face and animate it in real time. Suddenly you have the perfect fake news storm. It seems that in the not too distant future, it will be possible to make anyone say anything.
So what does it mean for objectivity when you are not certain what is real anymore? What becomes of authenticity when it can’t be verified? What do these technologies mean for the future of audio and video production? We need to be asking these questions and more because the ramifications for how we distinguish and understand truth are huge.

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