Though it’d be a delight to hear him say it, the clip above is not Barack Obama calling Donald Trump a “total and complete dipshit.” Instead, as the video reveals, it is Oscar-winner Jordan Peele doing an impression of Obama matched with a video-rendering of the former president. It is an example of the so-called “deepfake” technology that uses advancements in AI to allow for the creation of convincing video-facsimiles of public figures with relatively few resources required. The video, a joint venture from Peele’s Monkey Paw Productions and BuzzFeed, is meant as a PSA to warn people about the existence of deepfakes. It is also an excuse for Peele to make Obama say shit like “Killmonger was right,” and “Ben Carson is in the Sunken Place.”
Whether deepfakes, as with any technology, are a force for good or evil depends on how humans make use of them. Some people (most people) will use them to create creepy fake porn of celebrities. Others, however, will use them to put Nic Cage in every movie. The technology isn’t entirely there yet—it doesn’t take much time looking at this video to tell that something is off—but it is young and only getting better.
A glance at the responses to BuzzFeed’s tweet of this video, however, reveal we’re perhaps already beginning to see the start of the worst effect deepfakes will have. Namely, it’s going to make the most annoying people in the world even more annoying, bolstering the new American pastime of calling literally everything “fake.” We are rapidly hurtling toward a future in which no one ever has to believe anything they don’t want to, and everyone uses the term “sheeple.” This is brilliant technology that will be used to make our impressively dumb times even dumber. Try to enjoy the new Nic Cage movies.