The Hollywood star was the protagonist, despite himself, of an eye-opening episode about the dangers of artificial intelligence.
Has Tom Cruise also become fascinated by TikTok's short videos? It would seem so but, in reality, it is a fake. Indeed, of a deepfake. It was artificial intelligence that brought Cruise, or rather a faithful reproduction of him, to the social network through complex simulation algorithms that were able to reproduce the features of the American actor.
He suddenly appeared at the end of February on TikTok and after only 3 videos he disappeared into thin air. In the meantime, however, the profile @deeptomcruise has managed to grab over a million likes, more than 11 million views and 380 thousand followers. All for a deepfake created by AI. And then nothing. Many have wondered who was behind the account but, to date, no one has been able to give a concrete answer to the question. Surely, it is a person expert in the emulation technique that reconstructs in a credible way the appearance and the face of real people, given the surprising results obtained in such a short time.
DeepTomCruise, a perfect Cruise but not too much
Of course, the username didn't give rise to many misunderstandings but a less careful look at the images could have misled many of the users of TikTok. In addition, a few too many graphic errors, the so-called glitches, in the areas of the video near the face quickly dispelled any doubt even in the most distracted.
The voice was not reproduced perfectly either, but these are venial sins for a profile that, after only a handful of videos with a funny and carefree tone, disappeared leaving behind a cloud of smoke. But between a fake Tom Cruise who does a magic trick with a coin and a clumsy Mr. Mission: Impossible who stumbles through the stores of Los Angeles, the risks of deepfake continue to keep the attention of the network.
TikTok and the risks of deepfake
They draw from vast libraries that make available the different conformations of the areas of the face, and reconstruct a credible collage of the face of famous and not famous people. This is how the softwares that exploit the deepfake technique work, making it not only a social entertainment or a source of study for professionals, but also a potential source of danger.
In fact, in the last years there have been many cases of fake videos, usually X-rated, in which the faces of famous actresses - Scarlett Johansson to name one - have been superimposed to those of the real protagonists without their knowledge. The same thing has also happened to some politicians, such as former US President Barack Obama and current president Joe Biden, all because of an app that was later removed from the main virtual stores. Not to forget the clamorous deepfake message of the Queen of England.
What if, instead of an X-rated movie, the protagonists had been catapulted into a fake video on hot topics, such as the presidential elections or a fake declaration of a sex scandal? One has to believe that the problems would have been many more. Given the ease with which these videos can be created - in many cases, even a smartphone is sufficient - deepfake has the potential to become a serious problem for social networks and beyond.
And, while the fake Tom Cruise prepares to play golf, TikTok and its partners are already working to develop tools that can prevent degeneration derived from the use of such technologies.