Tom Cruise Plays Golf, Performs Magic Tricks and Tells a Joke

The emergence of deepfake technology

Husnain Choudhry, Tech Columnist

Deepfake Tom Cruise performing a magic trick in a TikTok video made by @deeptomcruise. Photo by Tamara Nguyen.

In a series of TikTok videos, the Mission Impossible actor Tom Cruise does a series of activities, like playing golf and performing a magic trick. To anyone who doesn’t use TikTok or hasn’t seen these videos, it may seem surprising that the videos went viral all over TikTok and the Internet at large. However, a closer look would show that the aforementioned actor in the video was actually an impersonator. 

The TikTok user who created the posts, dubbed deeptomcruise, used deepfake technology, which is an artificial intelligence program that replaces one person’s likeness with another in a photo/video. So yes, with the help of a willing impersonator and a computer algorithm, you could impersonate anyone with impressive results. 

While the TikTok videos had telltale signs of a deepfake video, as technology progresses, we can expect to see more refined and more convincing deepfakes. This means that people with less-than-benign intentions could create videos and images impersonating world leaders, which could incite violence or even a war. To a lesser extent, public figures and even regular people’s lives could be ruined by an impersonator doing something controversial or morally wrong. 

While deepfakes do present a challenge to society at large, it also opens up a career field for facial recognition experts, forensic and computer scientists, as well as many more jobs. For example, forensic scientists, especially those who understand altered media, could identify discrepancies such as changes in lighting, background and more. In addition, computer scientists could create algorithms that check if an image or video is fake or not. While deepfake technology is still early, a career in this field could very soon be an option for Woodson students to pursue.