Like a lot of new technology, deepfakes have a light and dark side, yin and yang, or in this particular case: a red pill and a blue pill. Recently, a YouTube channel with the moniker DrFakenstein deepfaked Keanu Reeves into a “Sesame Street” musical segment, as Futurism reports.
The dangers of deepfakes as tools for propaganda and exploitation aren’t a laughing matter. That’s the dark side, or the blue pill if you will, which in “The Matrix” represents the duping of humanity. But Reeve’s patchy bearded visage edited onto children’s faces is comical, if not a little strange. That’s the lighter side, the red pill that allows Neo to stay in Wonderland, or in this case, Sesame Street.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Okay, maybe the analogy is a bit of a stretch. After all, Sesame Street isn’t gloomy like the robot sentinel infested “real world” in “The Matrix.” Zion could represent Sesame Street, the machines certainly wanted to know how to get there. But really, the subterranean Zion is more like another Jim Henson creation: “Fraggle Rock.” But enough going down the rabbit hole.
Geeky “Matrix” references aside, the video is weirdly entertaining. Reeves’s likeness somehow seems at home on Sesame Street. But it’s also creepy. Bearded Keanu kids singing in children’s’ voices is a little nightmarish. It’s also random. The clip DrFakenstein chose to deepfake features the late great poet Maya Angelou, who is very real, singing a song with the kids about being proud of your name. That’s pretty cool, as “Sesame Street” always is.
Paperspace Paper Chase
But who is DrFakenstein? Included in the video post is a plug for a computing cloud company called Paperspace. The platform seems to be using deepfake videos as promotional tools.
As Futurism points out, the DrFakenstein channel also boasts videos of Joe Rogan in “The Little Rascals.” The face of actor and comedian Bobby Lee (“Pineapple Express,” “The Dictator”) appears on Maisie Williams’ body as Arya in “Game of Thrones.”
There’s also more Sesame Street deepfakes featuring Wiz Khalifa, Eminem, Jamie Foxx, and Mike Tyson. Kermit the Frog interviews Snoop Dogg. But “Parks and Rec’s” Ron Swanson as Michelle from “Full House” might take the cake for most disturbing.
Paperspace using deepfakes as advertising tools shows just how influential they can be. The technology has even prompted the United States Congress to take action, somewhat of a rarity these days.
A deepfake video of the most powerful Democrat in Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, is probably one of the things that prompted The House Intelligence Committee to hold a hearing with AI experts to address the problem. The creator of the Pelosi video doctored it to make the Speaker appear intoxicated.
An altered video of Nancy Pelosi drunk doesn’t even begin to come close to the most scandalous thing in Washington. But Futurism offered up a disconcerting scenario. As the technology improves, a deepfake video of Donald Trump announcing a nuclear strike could cause mass hysteria and people could get hurt. Congress is also concerned that deepfakes will influence the 2020 election.
Suddenly Keanu kids don’t seem so creepy.