Why age yourself to oblivion when you can be Leonardo DiCaprio?
You might have experienced what I’m calling “Age of Apocalypse” (though Marvel Comics may not be happy about it) in your timeline not so long ago. Suddenly everyone of your friends and families were getting as old as the hills. That was “FaceApp“, a Russian app that makes use of AI for transforming you into your probable old looking self which faced heavy criticisms concerning its terms and conditions. Now there’s a new sheriff in town! “Zao App“, a free-to-download deepfake app from China can put your face into a 30-second video clip of movies and other media.
Deepfake isn’t a new thing really and not a pay-to-use thing either. In fact, you can download the “deepfakes” repository from GitHub right now and use it as you see fit. It has been around a while to be under the radar of the US Government. One requires technical know-how, capable hardware and the patience of a saint to be able to get the desired result from the technology. However, Zao completely revolutionalizes the practicality of deepfake, where a user can simply upload a portrait of themselves and be able to swap their face into a 1/2 a minute video clip available in the app itself.
The price of something free
Zao App was released on the Apple App Store on August 30th, where it became an overnight sensation and the top free app in China for the week. Unsurprisingly, its terms and conditions sparked outrage among the users and reasonably so. Déjà vu! By using the app, the user data would succumb to the mercy of “Momo Inc.”, the company that owns Zao.
According to Bloomberg, a previous version of the terms and conditions of the app included a clause where the developer would get “free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable and relicense-able” rights to any content uploaded by the user. Combine this to the fact that every company in China is mandated to provide their data to the Chinese government when demanded, your content could potentially either be misused by the company or get into the hands of the government. (But that’s already a reality in China so no hiccups there!)
Following the outcry, the company was quick to respond by altering its terms and conditions stating that it wouldn’t use your content for purposes other than previously agreed on or to improve the app itself. Additionally, once your delete your uploaded content, they would be deleted from the company’s servers too.
Witness the app in its glory as demonstrated by the Twitter user @AllanXia
In case you haven't heard, #ZAO is a Chinese app which completely blew up since Friday. Best application of 'Deepfake'-style AI facial replacement I've ever seen.
Here's an example of me as DiCaprio (generated in under 8 secs from that one photo in the thumbnail) ? pic.twitter.com/1RpnJJ3wgT
— Allan Xia (@AllanXia) September 1, 2019
So what do you think of the app? Do you really think it’s the end of days for user privacy?