Mateus Braga: Kubrick, deepfakes precursor
The release of the movie Doctor Sleep reminds us of visionary genius Stanley Kubrick. Its powerful impact on the arts, technology and even humanity itself remains to this day.
Perhaps his most profound contribution was the masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, produced in 1968. This science-fiction work, partly based on Arthur C. Clarke's short story The Sentinel, explores human evolution, existentialism. and notably artificial intelligence.
It is a beautiful film with a keen scientific realism, special effects far ahead of its time, and a narrative construction with as little dialogue as possible. For example, satellites and dancers mingle with the Blue Danube lineages. This is pure visual poetry about the relationship between man and technology.
In many ways, this artwork has inspired today's technology, which is now inspiring today's “art”.
One of the main characters in the movie is HAL 9000, a simple red lamp with artificial intelligence (AI). So much smarter than the ship's own crew. Kubrick believed that highly intelligent computers could learn from experience and would inevitably develop emotions such as fear, love, hate and envy. These machines, he said, would eventually manifest human mental disorders.
HAL stands for "Heuristic ALgoritmic". In the language of computer science, "heuristic algorithms" are AI techniques applied to problems of high theoretical complexity that cannot be solved with conventional programming techniques, particularly those of a purely numerical nature. That is, everything that implies a more complex, analytical, emotional and sentimental understanding is involved in a heuristic algorithm. HAL was science fiction.
Coming back to real life, after 40 years, AI solutions are literally in our hands. Animojis from Apple, Siri, Alexa, Google, etc., HAL 9000 was their inspiration, the grandfather of all these beauties out there.
If a system can learn from emotional touches and refinements as Kubrick predicted, the question arises whether we will have a time when the evil power of these AI applications will set in once. Just take a look at the deepfakes to figure out what's coming. Deepfake is the application of technology with AI to create extremely realistic but fake videos. Videos where personalities can appear making a speech in reverse to their political point of view or even being placed in awkward situations. It is not basic editing. It is an almost real video created with AI that captures the person's facial expressions, feelings and emotions.
In the information age, fake news and deepfakes can have a destructive impact on the image of individuals or corporations. Former US President Barack Obama was one of the victims. In a video made from deepfake technology, he calls Donald Trump "a total and complete idiot." The video sounds very real, but Jordan Peel's AI deep learning was produced as an experimental video that has a worldwide impact.
As a creative, it all makes me stop to think about what we'll see in the next 40 years. I can only hope that, with all the rapid and continuous advances, we will also have something of the HAL 9000 “soul”. Dave says he won't open the ship's hangar doors: "I'm sorry, Dave, but I'm afraid I can't do that."