AI Company Co-Founder Addresses Ethics of Tom Cruise 'Deepfake' Videos

Celebrities have lawyers “but what about regular people” who find their images altered by AI without their consent? Tom Graham of AI software company Metaphysic says blockchain might be one solution.

AccessTimeIconFeb 1, 2023 at 9:01 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 1, 2023 at 9:09 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global hub for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

It started as an art project, then the Tom Cruise "deepfake" videos went viral on TikTok. Now a co-founder of an artificial intelligence (AI) software company, created after the viral videos aired, wants people to be more aware of the technology and how they can protect their digital identities.

Blockchain technology, which is immutable, may be just such a tool, Tom Graham, of AI software company Metaphysic, told CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover” on Wednesday.

“Of all the technologies, distributed systems that help individuals manage their own identity … that’s a really important step in the process of empowering individuals to be in control of who they are in this emerging hyper-real metaverse,” Graham said.

The London-based startup, which recently raised $7.5 million in a founding round, develops infrastructure and technology to expand artificial intelligence-based content, Graham said. But he wants the firm to expand in an “ethical, safe and responsible way.”

That, however, may be a challenge, Graham said, because AI-generated content such as deepfakes could be crossing an ethical line. Deepfakes are a form of manipulated media that can make anyone appear to be doing or saying anything – for instance, Tom Cruise, who was depicted by a person digitally altered to resemble the actor in the TikTok videos.

Walking the ethical line is especially tricky for the company because the Cruise deepfakes began as an art project by co-founder Christopher Ume before the company was formed.

It "was begun with the purpose of generating awareness for manipulated media, and the potential for what could happen," said Graham of the videos. "Obviously [deepfake] Tom Cruise is kind of irreverent, fun, entertaining content. When it suddenly blew up we contacted Tom Cruise's team and ultimately they didn't have an issue."

HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 10: Miles Fisher arrives at the "Final Destination 5" Los Angeles Premiere on August 10, 2011 at Grauman'S Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Tom Cruise portrayer Miles Fisher (left) and the real Tom Cruise (Getty Images) (WireImage)

Tom Cruise is not an average person but it is possible images of anyone, without their consent, can be manipulated using AI and become the next TikTok sensation.

Celebrities have lawyers, Graham said, “but what about regular people?”

So finding a way for individuals to own and control their identities "should be our central purpose" as a society, he said.

For now, Graham said, his company is “at the forefront of trying to noodle out how to let people protect themselves in this emerging future.”

Disclosure

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, institutional digital assets exchange. Bullish group is majority owned by Block.one; both groups have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary, and an editorial committee, chaired by a former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is being formed to support journalistic integrity.

Fran Velasquez

Fran is CoinDesk's TV writer and reporter.


Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.