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Screen Actors Guild pledges to fight AI-driven face-swapping porn

SAG-AFTRA is trying to get ahead of deepfakes.
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The slow war against AI-powered, face-swapping pornography continues. The Screen Actors Guild, the labor union representing the biggest names in film and television, says it's "fighting back" against deepfakes, videos that superimpose actors' faces onto the bodies of porn stars.

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris wrote the following in the group's monthly magazine, as spotted by Deadline:

"We are closely watching the development of so-called deepfakes. This artificial intelligence tool has the ability to steal our images and superimpose them onto another person's body in potentially unpleasant and inappropriate digital forms. SAG-AFTRA is focused on these emerging processes and fighting back when the technology infringes on our members' rights."

Nicholas Cage's face takes over Amy Adams' performance

SAG-AFTRA is taking a particular interest in legislative action. The union has legislation pending in New York and Louisiana that directly tackles the issue of deepfakes, a spokesperson told Deadline. This isn't just about protecting living actors, either -- the union is interested in beefing up the rules for post-mortem rights of publicity, which would ideally give family members control of a deceased actor's livelihood and likelihood.

"It should be exclusively or non-exclusively licensed or passed down to heirs, much like a copyright," the spokesperson said. "Where a content creator misappropriates a living or deceased individual for commercialized fake news or fake porn, or in expressive works depicting the individual performing the activity for which they are known, e.g. delivering the news or performing fictional characters, we believe explicit protections should be in place."

Much of the current deepfake trend spawned on Reddit, where a member created an app that made the entire face-swapping process more accessible than ever. Tens of thousands of people used the app to superimpose images of celebrities -- and the women in their lives -- onto the bodies of porn stars.

Reddit banned deepfake porn in February, though it kept open numerous subreddits with face-swapping technology. Pornhub also pledged in February to ban deepfakes, but just this week a simple search pulled up more than 100 videos featuring face-swapped celebrities.

Deepfakes aren't only for the porn world. Recent advances in AI have made it easier than ever to put words in someone's mouth or place a person in unflattering situations. Oscar-winning writer, actor and director Jordan Peele made a video with Buzzfeed this week showcasing how far this kind of technology has come: He made it appear as if former President Barack Obama called President Donald Trump "a total and complete dipshit."

This type of technology has myriad implications for the film, video game and advertising industries, potentially cutting back on animation time as actors can simply perform and make it appear as if anyone -- or any alien, animal or mineral -- is actually saying those lines. Epic Games, Tencent, Vicon and a handful of other companies showed off their latest motion-capture tech at GDC 2018 with the (completely G-rated) Siren demonstration.

Family-friendly demos notwithstanding, the most recent comment on our coverage of Siren demonstrates the clear path that this type of technology will take, and why groups like SAG are stepping up now to protect the likenesses of its members: "VR PORN - WOOOOHOOO. The future is coming lads. VR actors that give you full attention - you will not last 2 minutes gents."

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