Deepfakes are easily detected by your brain, but you don’t realise it

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As artificial intelligence gets smarter and smarter, the iterative tool gets used for myriad creative purposes. Case in point: deepfakes, video face swaps that, in some cases, are realistic enough to trick you.

As it turns out, your brain isn’t actually tricked the vast majority of the time. However, your conscious mind is unaware of the fact that it knows something’s wrong.

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Your brain knows what deepfakes are, but you don’t

Via UniteAI, a new study was performed to discover how the brain reacts to AI-generated face swaps. Surprising, a person’s brain has the ability to react immensely to fake faces while the conscious mind is still confused.

In the study, scientists measured brainwaves whilst looking at deepfake images and normal faces. In the tests, brainwaves frequently responded to the fake images, perhaps indicating some form of uncanny valley effect deep in our brains.

Whilst reading their brainwaves, test subjects were asked which faces were not real. However, the answers were inconsistent with what their brainwaves showed.

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The study showed that the brain was correctly deterred by deepfakes 54% of the time. On the other hand, the conscious mind could only detect a fake face 37% of the time. It’s not necessarily a colossal difference, but a rather sizeable one. 

“Our results demonstrate that given only a brief glimpse, observers may be able to spot fake faces,” the study reads. “However, they have a harder time discerning real faces from fake faces and, in some instances, believed fake faces to be more real than real faces.”

Read More: Google bans deepfake research over danger factor

What does this mean?

The researchers believe that this discovery could have valuable impacts on cybersecurity. As harmless as they seem in silly internet videos of entertainment, deepfakes have been causing a lot of trouble outside of media.

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For example, real-time deepfake tech is already here. This technology has been proven to be a powerful tool for those looking to rob banks. Furthermore, fake faces have been used for political espionage such as when Russia used deepfakes of the Ukrainian President to try and crush military morale.

What’s very concerning is the fact that fake faces are often more believed to be real than real faces. This has been touched on before in another study, but even this study showed that the conscious mind identifies real faces as fake 67% of the time, but the brain still knows.

This means that between noticing the fake face and deciding whether or not it’s real, microseconds of second guessing occurs. Essentially, you know what’s going on, but you’re telling yourself the opposite. Isn’t that fascinating?