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Forging Voices and Faces: The Dangers of Audio and Video Fabrication

Adobe, Baidu, Google, and others have software that can fabricate convincing video or audio clips of anyone

3 min read
Photo: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images
Photo: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

In 1963, before he could give the speech he’d prepared for his trip to Dallas, U.S. president John F. Kennedy was assassinated. In March 2018, a company re-created the speech that Kennedy had intended to give, synthesized from fragments of his own voice.

Technology companies including Google, Baidu, and Adobe have recently funded efforts to fabricate audio or video from samples of speech or fragments of footage. Startups including Voicery and Lyrebird have developed customizable human voices (built from audio recorded by professional voice actors) that can be programmed to say anything. These companies have also released do-it-yourself software that lets you synthesize your own voice (or someone else’s, with their permission) from a 1-minute recording. And open-source tools to build such programs are available on Github.

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The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

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