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Internet Gold | Can You Trust Your Ears? Two Minute Papers (Pt 1 of 2)

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Written by   174
6 months ago

As I alluded to in my last article,

we are living in crazy times.

Not only is most information which we receive framed -- given to us in a way that aims at manipulating our feelings instead of educating us -- the technical possibilities for faking pictures and even video material are much more powerful and harder to detect than they were ever before.

In my last article, Captain Disillusion taught us a few things to watch out for when it comes to visual effects in videos. We concluded that we cannot trust our eyes unconditionally. We have to be on the lookout for manipulated videos. And we learned how to identify them ourselves.

In this article, I ask you:

Can we trust our ears?

Or put slightly different:

Can we trust that what we hear was really said by who we think said it?

-- Well, the "too long, didn't read" answer is no.

Let me explain the various ways in which voice recordings can be manipulated. I believe, there is at least one method that you haven't heard of before.

Let's begin!

The oldest method for faking voice is of course to imitate the way a person speaks. This is also called an impression. Some people have learned to imitate many famous people and you are probably also capable of speaking "in different voices" -- even without any training at all. The human voice is very adaptable. The difficult part is to sound very close to how another person sounds.

I don't really think that we need an example for that, but in case you want an entertaining one, watch this guy impersonating 40 different celebrities / movie characters in less than 7 minutes:

The best impersonators can get really close. So close that it can be hard to tell if the impersonator or the real person speaks. Especially, if it is a low-quality voice recording or transmission -- such as in a phone conversation.

Relatively modern methods

started to arise when voice recordings were invented. You can use editing similar to what we discussed last time with visual effects. Here again "invisible" cuts can give an entirely misleading impression of what has been said. However, when you take different words from different sentences, it is hard to make them sound convincing. Usually, you can tell that something is off.

These methods do not necessarily require a computer for editing, but a computer certainly makes it easier and more convenient to manipulate voice recordings. In addition, there are digital methods such as autotune to change the voice to make it kind of sound like someone is singing even when they are not. If you want examples, just type in "Trump sings" into YouTube and be amazed at how many songs Trump supposedly sang within the last four years...

Ok, here is one from 3 days ago which only takes 1 minute to watch:

As you can probably tell from this example, you probably won't get perfect results with the cutting and pasting method.

But of course, you can just replace a "no" with a "yes" in a recording -- or you could leave out a few words like "never" or "not". Even these relatively primitive methods can be used very effectively.

Alright, we have already explored some of the possibilities for manipulating voice using a computer. But believe me:

You have seen nothing yet!

The next part of this article will probably blow your mind.

Just as a teaser, I leave you with this clip:

The title contains another hint at what follows in the next article. Feel free to speculate on what the second part of this Internet Gold article will be about in the comments.

Speaking of comments

Have you heard about The Comment League which fellow author @Macronald wants to establish starting November 2020? The goal is to increase meaningful discourse and reader interaction by rewarding those readers who write high-quality comments. Check it out! 😊

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Written by   174
6 months ago
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Comments

Really cool post. Topic openness and the incentive of Bitcoin Cash rewards at read.cash produce a lot of noise daily. Several low quality posts pouring from people's fingers (I know, is really hard to come up with an interest article daily); additionally we find really really tiresome and meaningless comments ('hey nice post', 'cool man'...) everywhere. So @Macronald initiative is something not only interesting but necessary, and we have just find about it. Final word: Stay cool 😂

$ 0.00
6 months ago

Thank you so much for your comment. 😊👍

I agree that @Macronald has a great idea with that Comment League and I'm already looking forward to its start. 😊👍

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6 months ago

Good one

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6 months ago

Thank you very much. I'm glad you like it. 😊👍

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6 months ago

that impressionist is very talented! sorry, no idea on the next part, but looking forward to it!

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6 months ago

Thank you very much for your support. 😊👍 I'm pretty sure you will be blown away by the next part. I will publish it today, the article is already finished.

Unfortunately, it seems that yesterday Rusty quit his job again... Let's hope he returns very soon. 😅🙈

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6 months ago

you're very welcome! just be patient...rusty will be back soon!

looking forward to your next post!

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6 months ago

I watch quite a few impressionists and it's unbelievable how can they change their voices in a snap! At first, I thought it's my eyes or my ears not seeing or hearing right but oh well what a gift! You really can't trust our ears indeed. Cheers. Your articles always bring a smile to readers like me.

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6 months ago

Thank you so much for your comment. Your kind words brought a smile to me. 😊

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6 months ago

Hey man. Really we can't trust our ears. I have watched a lot of impressionists. Some a damn good you can't tell the difference. Nice article.

Btw. Thanks for promoting the comment league. I may have to use your words in the description of the comment league in the next update post.

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6 months ago

Thank you so much for your comment and for your support. 😊👍 I believe that part 2 of this article will be a shock to many people. I have almost finished it and cannot wait to release it. 😅

Feel free to use the description of The Comment League in your next update. 👍

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6 months ago