Deep Nostalgia

 

The latest internet gadget-thingy is MyAncestry.com’s Deep Nostalgia tool. It animates old photos. I first encountered it on Twitter, where someone posted the results of applying the AI to a picture of Frederick Douglass. It was remarkable. You know it’s fake. But there is a simulacrum of the spark of life, somehow – your brain both rebels and accepts. Uncanny Valley and all that.

I signed up and started running old pictures through the program. The site warns you that the results may trigger Emotions, and that’s wise. I cannot input my parents, because the thought of seeing the old pictures move and smile is unbearable. I put in my grandmother as a 75-year-old, and I felt my eyes smart. Is it the movement that does it? Or is there something in the program that imbues an ineffable element to the fakery that fires a billion dormant neurons that held her memory?

It’s best to stick to relatives you never knew. I reanimated my great-grandfather, and got a brief hint of the smile my grandmother might have seen as a little girl when dad came home to the farm from a trip to town, and she told him about what the dog did. Funny dog!

There is, of course, an immense problem with this technology, as it will demolish our faith in the veracity of moving images completely, and there is nothing we can do about it. 

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 56 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Pretty sure this would have been an abomination in the Dune universe. 

    • #1
  2. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Well, that’s kinda creepy. 

    • #2
  3. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Just wait until your reanimated ancestors scold you about climate change.

    • #3
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    On the bright side, animations via algorithms will empower visual storytellers to produce films and games with smaller teams and more focus on art than technicalities. 

    I remember when greeting card templates on computers were impressive. A combination of innovative services and inherited techniques will continue to offer “wizards” to guide uneducated amateurs through “5 easy steps” to accomplish what once only professionals could do. 

    • #4
  5. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Pretty soon we will all be able to manufacture our own “Deep Fakes” at will and you won’t be able to believe any video.

    Unreal Engine

     

    • #5
  6. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    I’m trying to imagine this in 10 years.  20?  Yikes…

    • #6
  7. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’m trying to imagine this in 10 years. 20? Yikes…

    I’m trying hard not to imagine it combined with animated artificial bodies. Blast. Too late. Einstein on the holodeck has nothing on an animatronic Mao Zedong programmed to shout excerpts from the Red Book and with enough AI power to lead the next generation of Red Guards to the unending victory of the worker and peasant class….

    • #7
  8. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’m trying to imagine this in 10 years. 20? Yikes…

    I’m trying hard not to imagine it combined with animated artificial bodies. Blast. Too late. Einstein on the holodeck has nothing on an animatronic Mao Zedong programmed to shout excerpts from the Red Book and with enough AI power to lead the next generation of Red Guards to the unending victory of the worker and peasant class….

    Remember the first place this tech is going to be exploited big time is ….. Porn.

    • #8
  9. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    So maybe now Biden can start doing press conferences . . . remote, of course.

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    James Lileks: There is, of course, an immense problem with this technology, as it will demolish our faith in the veracity of moving images completely

    Just wait until someone gets convicted of murder based on video evidence that later turns out to have been completely manufactured . . .

    • #10
  11. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Stad (View Comment):

    James Lileks: There is, of course, an immense problem with this technology, as it will demolish our faith in the veracity of moving images completely

    Just wait until someone gets convicted of murder based on video evidence that later turns out to have been completely manufactured . . .

    Before that happens it will have become impossible to convict anyone based on video evidence at all, by showing that it could be fake.

    • #11
  12. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    All I can think is that this has something to do with proxy baptisms.

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    TBA (View Comment):

    Pretty sure this would have been an abomination in the Dune universe.

    The internet would have been an abomination in the Dune universe.

    Bene Gesserit luddites.

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I just found a photo of Grandpap leading a parade in 1937. He’s dressed as Abraham Lincoln and riding a horse.

    I wonder if they’d animate the horse too. Her name was Becky, because there was always a horse named Becky and a dog named Oscar.

    • #14
  15. MDHahn Coolidge
    MDHahn
    @MDHahn

    The Frederick Douglass photo/video is startling, and mesmerizing. @jameslileks is, of course, correct that there is nothing we can do about it. This is the type of technology that many will want to ban or suppress–just think of all the bad things that this can be used for, including those already mentioned in the comments. But we need to resist that urge. Suppressing this technology would not make the problem go away. It would make the problem worse. It would develop in the underground or the black market and in ways that made detection harder because we would know less about how it was made.

    The solution–if there is one–is to let the market work. As this technology improves, there will be a push to be able to prove videos and images are real or fake. At least I hope that it will. If that happens, then you will have companies competing to develop technology to detect the fakes or imprint digital signatures to show authenticity. I think that Microsoft may already be working on that.

    I’ve always thought–or hoped–that one day we’d actually develop most of the technology we see in Star Trek. We already have tricorders, voice-activated computers, touch screens, hyp0-spray, etc. But I kind of figured that holodecks would come towards the end. Mainly because, like warp drive and transporters, they seemed so incredibly fanciful. But here we are. It’s going to get very, very weird.

    • #15
  16. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Pretty soon we will all be able to manufacture our own “Deep Fakes” at will and you won’t be able to believe any video.

    Unreal Engine

     

    Sometime soon Polaroids are going to come back and will be the only photos admissible in court.

    • #16
  17. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Bizarre – guarding your personal life is already hard enough. It’s very tempting to go down these roads, especially the DNA research.

    • #17
  18. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I put my father’s image into it – but not the father I knew – I chose the pre-father, aged 18 and fresh out of Navy boot in 1943. It wasn’t particularly hard to deal with the emotions as I see my youthful dad at least twice a month in his grandson. Only the boy, so far, is an upgrade. He drinks sparingly, has never touched the tobacco that killed my old man, and he’s a Marine Sergeant instead of Machinists Mate (2C). 

    But the sentiments about trusting visual images is here. “Deep fake” technology is now in the hands of everyone, not just Hollywood. That takes the nefarious implications and raises it exponentially as it reduces the potential for mischief to a conspiracy of one.

    Like so much of tech, it first made the rounds in porn. The UK press published sanitized versions of clips featuring famous actresses with their face substituted for the porn performer with scarily good results. 

    Our own editor has been Twitter posting some very disturbing images he produces with an app called “Reface.” (Evidently we pay him too much or don’t keep him busy enough. Exjon as Brittany Spears will keep you up at night.) 

    I used to believe (and to a certain extent still do) that the potential for fooling the general public lies in documents, not video. But we’re getting there and it’s not going to be pretty.

     

     

    • #18
  19. Captain French Moderator
    Captain French
    @AlFrench

    EJHill (View Comment):

    I put my father’s image into it – but not the father I knew – I chose the pre-father, aged 18 and fresh out of Navy boot in 1943. It wasn’t particularly hard to deal with the emotions as I see my youthful dad at least twice a month in his grandson. Only the boy, so far, is an upgrade. He drinks sparingly, has never touched the tobacco that killed my old man, and he’s a Marine Sergeant instead of Machinists Mate (2C).

    But the sentiments about trusting visual images is here. “Deep fake” technology is now in the hands of everyone, not just Hollywood. That takes the nefarious implications and raises it exponentially as it reduces the potential for mischief to a conspiracy of one.

    Like so much of tech, it first made the rounds in porn. The UK press published sanitized versions of clips featuring famous actresses with their face substituted for the porn performer with scarily good results.

    Our own editor has been Twitter posting some very disturbing images he produces with an app called “Reface.” (Evidently we pay him too much or don’t keep him busy enough. Exjon as Brittany Spears will keep you up at night.)

    I used to believe (and to a certain extent still do) that the potential for fooling the general public lies in documents, not video. But we’re getting there and it’s not going to be pretty.

     

     

    MM2 to marine sgt isn’t an upgrade.

    • #19
  20. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Captain French (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    I put my father’s image into it – but not the father I knew – I chose the pre-father, aged 18 and fresh out of Navy boot in 1943. It wasn’t particularly hard to deal with the emotions as I see my youthful dad at least twice a month in his grandson. Only the boy, so far, is an upgrade. He drinks sparingly, has never touched the tobacco that killed my old man, and he’s a Marine Sergeant instead of Machinists Mate (2C).

    But the sentiments about trusting visual images is here. “Deep fake” technology is now in the hands of everyone, not just Hollywood. That takes the nefarious implications and raises it exponentially as it reduces the potential for mischief to a conspiracy of one.

    Like so much of tech, it first made the rounds in porn. The UK press published sanitized versions of clips featuring famous actresses with their face substituted for the porn performer with scarily good results.

    Our own editor has been Twitter posting some very disturbing images he produces with an app called “Reface.” (Evidently we pay him too much or don’t keep him busy enough. Exjon as Brittany Spears will keep you up at night.)

    I used to believe (and to a certain extent still do) that the potential for fooling the general public lies in documents, not video. But we’re getting there and it’s not going to be pretty.

     

     

    MM2 to marine sgt isn’t an upgrade.

    Swabby to jarhead is the upgrade. (Ducks)

    • #20
  21. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Captain French: MM2 to marine sgt isn’t an upgrade.

    From 1943 to 2021 it is. I’d much rather have my son’s duty than working the boiler in a destroyer escort looking for u-boats.

    • #21
  22. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Thanks for the update. I hadn’t heard of this latest gadget, but a picture of an “animated” Calvin Coolidge showed up in my timeline. Of course, it was a still image, which I found amusing. Now I know the inspiration behind it.

    • #22
  23. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’m trying to imagine this in 10 years. 20? Yikes…

    I’m trying hard not to imagine it combined with animated artificial bodies. Blast. Too late. Einstein on the holodeck has nothing on an animatronic Mao Zedong programmed to shout excerpts from the Red Book and with enough AI power to lead the next generation of Red Guards to the unending victory of the worker and peasant class….

    Remember the first place this tech is going to be exploited big time is ….. Porn.

    See previous comment about holodecks and animatronics. Ever wanted to do it with Mata Hari? Well….

    • #23
  24. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’m trying to imagine this in 10 years. 20? Yikes…

    I’m trying hard not to imagine it combined with animated artificial bodies. Blast. Too late. Einstein on the holodeck has nothing on an animatronic Mao Zedong programmed to shout excerpts from the Red Book and with enough AI power to lead the next generation of Red Guards to the unending victory of the worker and peasant class….

    Remember the first place this tech is going to be exploited big time is ….. Porn.

    See previous comment about holodecks and animatronics. Ever wanted to do it with Mata Hari? Well….

    Once again, subtle stirrings implying a future where sex robot sanitizer will be a career.

    • #24
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    James Lileks: There is, of course, an immense problem with this technology, as it will demolish our faith in the veracity of moving images completely

    Just wait until someone gets convicted of murder based on video evidence that later turns out to have been completely manufactured . . .

    Before that happens it will have become impossible to convict anyone based on video evidence at all, by showing that it could be fake.

    Absolutely.  It would be like finding two people with the exact same fingerprints . . .

    • #25
  26. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I’ll give them this: zombies are prettier than I imagined.

    • #26
  27. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    W Bob (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Pretty soon we will all be able to manufacture our own “Deep Fakes” at will and you won’t be able to believe any video.

    Unreal Engine

    Sometime soon Polaroids are going to come back and will be the only photos admissible in court.

    So, buy stock now.  But, seriously, can chemical substrates be laid down buy 3D printing?

    • #27
  28. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    W Bob (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Pretty soon we will all be able to manufacture our own “Deep Fakes” at will and you won’t be able to believe any video.

    Unreal Engine

    Sometime soon Polaroids are going to come back and will be the only photos admissible in court.

    For at least a few years now, someone – Fujitsu? – has been marketing instant-print cameras again.  I see them in the Target store ads regularly.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I’m trying to imagine this in 10 years. 20? Yikes…

    I’m trying hard not to imagine it combined with animated artificial bodies. Blast. Too late. Einstein on the holodeck has nothing on an animatronic Mao Zedong programmed to shout excerpts from the Red Book and with enough AI power to lead the next generation of Red Guards to the unending victory of the worker and peasant class….

    Remember the first place this tech is going to be exploited big time is ….. Porn.

    See previous comment about holodecks and animatronics. Ever wanted to do it with Mata Hari? Well….

    Dennis Miller used to say that the day a blue-collar worker can sit in his Barcolounger with a beer and… have sex with… Claudia Schiffer for $19.95, is going to make crack look like Sanka.

    • #29
  30. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Several years ago – could be almost 4 decades now, I suppose – I wrote a never-published sci-fi story based on the premise that computers could use medical body scans etc – and this was long before imaging booths at airport security, etc – to create videos then used for blackmail/control.

    • #30