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