DeepFakes; The New Tool to Navigating Deep Break…Ups

It is no secret that DeepFakes, or videos that have “been edited using an algorithm to replace the person in the original video with someone else (especially a public figure) in a way that makes the video look authentic” are a relatively large threat to privacy issues online as well as personal ownership. The ability for any individual to manipulate a face to do or say anything to their own advantage seems like a software that could only be used for evil.

But what if the notorious Deep Fake software could be used to fight yet another epidemic plaguing this decade: online dating. More specifically, ghosting. In 2022, MIT Media Lab Student, Maggie Chen, created a deepfake incorporated project titled ‘Breakup Simulator,’ a “web based platform that uses deep fakes to create an interactive breakup conversation between the user and their partner.” The Breakup Simulator attempts to weed out the root of what causes an individual to ‘ghost,’ or disappear from an intimate relationship without a trace or line of communication. It is no surprise that breakups are hard. They are a chaotic mess of feelings, often negative, and the ‘easier’ option is to disappear. In her project, Chen outlines how the “goal of the tool is to eliminate fear of the unknown and ease anxieties about the difficult conversation of a breakup.”

Essentially, the BreakUp Simulator is a practice run. The software takes a deep fake of the user and one of the user’s partner based off of submitted photos. It then allows the user to rehearse a breakup with their partner based off of a plethora of different common breakup scenarios. For example, the user could input a breakup along the guidelines of, “we’re growing apart,” and witness a scripted enactment of a breakup with their partner. Is it the absolute cure for all issues surrounding the use of deep fakes, or more-so, the solution to all breakups ended by Casper the friendly ghosts? Probably not. But are training wheels to face a gruesome break up a small light able to break through the dark side of deep fakes? I think so.

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