Researchers at the University of Leeds have turned Joey from the television show Friends into a video chatbot. They analyzed the show and speech and created an artificial intelligence bot that they could program to say certain phrases. This video shows their work.

Imagine the future of this technology. Obviously, we can think of how it could be used for good. It could make AI creations more lifelike and useful, so when we ask Siri on our iPhone or Amazon's Alexa for help we would receive a better response. Phrasing, tone, and inflections of our computerized companion's voice becoming more human would make for more life-like interactions. 

But looking at the dark side, what if people could use it to their advantage? If you could create a video of a real person saying what you wanted them to say then the possibilities are endless. Dead people could do product endorsements, i.e. Elvis could sell an SUV or Audrey Hepburn could brag about a new perfume.

Imagine if you needed an eyewitness. You committed a crime or were accused of one, and you need an alibi badly. All you need to do now is type in a statement, and presto you have an eyewitness voicing your words.  Doing this convincingly is still a ways off from the looks of the video. I mean, they have not exactly gotten Joey sounding much smarter yet. 

Certain limitations exist in the method used. Hours of footage of Friends was used to create the fake Joey, and you would need lots of video of the person ahead of time to be analyzed to be able to create another. I can imagine television newscasters could easily be used with lots of camera facing video footage available to scan.  

In a world where our cell phones and the digital footprints we leave behind on our computers are hard to deny, the ability to fake a video statement is both fascinating and unnerving at the same time. 


Published by Ryan Bright