Last week, in the wake of a slate of articles (like our own) detailing the use of machine learning to swap Nicolas Cage’s face into films throughout history, YouTuber Tom Scott released a video called “Faceswapping, Unethical Videos, And Future Shock.” It was a thoughtful explanation of the way the technology works—that is, by taking a ton of videos of someone’s face, learning what they look like, and then imagining them in a new setting—as well as its extremely troubling ethical ramifications, given that its primary non-Cage use is to put the faces of female celebrities onto pornographic performers.
In order to illustrate this, Scott used the “deep fakes” app to swap his face with that of another YouTuber named Matt Parker. The result was—well, a hideous, blurry mess (see it at 3:28 above), which Scott used to illustrate the fact that the technology is still a couple steps away from massive usability, but that it’ll get there. Still, Redditors are nothing if not industrious, and so the very community of face-swappers that his video assailed as unethical have stepped in to perfectly swap his face:
In this case, the swap was executed between two people who had agreed to the digital Face/Off procedure, but as the technology becomes easier to use, it will also become easier to misuse, particularly on people who haven’t consented to it. Thankfully, Reddit and Twitter have banned the celebrity porn fakes from their platforms. Nicolas Cage, meanwhile, has not yet consented to his face being inserted into scenes from The Fellowship Of The Ring, the video for “Never Gonna Give You Up,” or Man Of Steel, but given that he starred in Bangkok Dangerous, he’s probably fine with it.