, 35 tweets, 22 min read
In case you haven't heard, #ZAO is a Chinese app which completely blew up since Friday. Best application of 'Deepfake'-style AI facial replacement I've ever seen.

Here's an example of me as DiCaprio (generated in under 8 secs from that one photo in the thumbnail) 🤯
It's already under a lot of fire for user privacy protection under their terms and conditions. So consider this my sacrifice to demonstrate so you don't have to give up your portrait identity rights 😅
It’s clear that #ZAO isn’t really going for "accuracy" per se, but rather a "subjective" good looking result. Similar to a beauty cam, it retains facial structure of the original actors, so the cherry picked results more or less always looks good and encourages users to share.
I can totally see this being applied in Films/ TV, imagine logging into your Netflix or Disney+ account - watching the latest TV show/ Marvel movie, where a stand-in actor's would be auto-replaced with your own.

The newest member of the Avengers is....YOU.
I'm both excited and interested from a technologist/ creator perspective and morbidly cynical from a moral one :'(
Pretty soon corporations will start advertising to you using your own face.
Here’s for Asian representation in Hollywood 😂 #ZAO #AI #Deepfake
The #ZAO app even has a built in meme gif generator...Apple is way behind the curve with Memoji’s 😅
Before this gets too sensational - just to clarify: #ZAO app generates these vids from a preselected cherry-picked clips. I'm assuming they've trained an A.I. on SAID clips for generic targeting of facial features and quickly retargeting your facial features from a single photo.
It's not able to magically recompose anyone's face on any video immediately. In fact, it's not doing anything that existing platforms that allow users to post selfies can't already (or potentially) do. As cynical as I am about dangers of AI, let's not get too conspiratorial here.
Actually since this app went viral in China, the biggest focus over the past few days has been in regards to its user privacy terms - with many social media (ie. Wechat) blocking #ZAO vids from being shared and users requesting the app to delete their account/ photos.
So no, the Chinese government isn't trying to take over the world by hijacking your facial likeness through #ZAO, considering:

A. The app is only available in Chinese app stores and there's pretty much already security cams in every street corner in Chinese cities.
B. For such foul-play it's much easier to crawl existing social media for people's selfies rather than spending all this effort to build a commercial app that only requests 'one photo' from users as a selling point.
If @Pornhub isn't already working on an implementation of this to allow users to self-insert (pun intended), then management needs to have a meeting right now 🤔 #Zao #AI #Deepfakes
There's a lot skepticism in the comments, but I'm calling it now: #KPOP fans will push #Zao to the top of trending and download charts in the near future once their idols are added 🤭
While you're here:

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200+ #Kiwi illustrators, comic artists, animators, designers, sculptors, game devs etc from our 2019 event:
chromacon.co.nz/gallery

A lot of amazing indie creators who also deserve your attention 👍
My learning from this post going viral is that realistically, it's a lot scarier to become a meme than having your identity rights stolen by a company.

Once you go viral in any way your face is pretty much immediately fair game in the public domain🤷‍♂️
Oh yeah, #Zao also works rather well with CG characters. I guess folks might not have to spend hours during character creation? I can see streamers loving this application of AI facial replacement. #DMC5
Taking this experiment to it’s inevitable conclusion. #KPop stans eat your heart out 😂 @weareoneEXO

#Zao #AI #Deepfakes #Exo #baekhyun
According to #Zao devs, the app burnt through 1/3 of the bandwidth of their 7 Million RMB/m (4.4m USD/month) server on the first evening. There's currently a long waiting queue for account registrations. #AI #Deepfake
A new special notice in the updated terms states #Zao will only use uploaded facial data for partial image replacement, data will be stored on servers according to relevant copyright laws. No further usage/ changes to app function unless with user's renewed permission.
For those curious about how protection of identity works in #Zao, the app verifies against a database of 'public figures' when you upload a photo. Apparently it's quite a badge of honour for some folks to be rejected by the system because they were mistaken for a 'celebrity'.
If you upload a photo vs taking a selfie, #Zao requires a second check via front facing camera to verify identity. It remains to be seen how well this system works, the running joke is that the app will be taken down as soon as someone fools the system with a photo of #XiJinping.
A video upload function exists in #Zao, but users need to be verified first to access. I have not able to get this to work. It seems like the same group of "users" uploading all the vids. I suspect this is how Zao is getting around the copyright issue.
This is truly the next evolution of #memes and we're entering uncharted territory. People might be cool with sharing memes of others, or flattered to be made into a meme, but what happens when it's millions of other faces on your body? #ZAO #DeepFakes
A new line probably needs to be drawn when it comes to "Transformative work" and I'd imagine new clauses will be drawn up in actor's contracts since #Zao's success sets an clear example the advertising industry will not be able to ignore. Next #Avengers movie trailer anyone?
For now, doubts have been cast on #Zao's future. #Wechat has already blocked native sharing/ links of videos generated. Will @Twitter/ @Facebook / @instagram do the same if the app blows up in the West?
What truly remains to be see is how apps like #Zao can prevent users uploading videos of others to be #Deepfake'd without permission. Corporations can always sue, but as the #BarbraStreisandEffect has shown, the average person can't do much if they're forced to become a #meme.
For those still actually curious about #Zao’s #AI #Deepfake tech, this vid pretty much pushes the algorithm to the limit. #Coincidance
Here’s another #DMC5 #Nero CG #AI facial replacement in #ZAO
Here’s another one for the #KPop fans waiting for #ZAO... 😂 #BlackPink #JENNIE #AI #Deepfake
Here’s a very appropriate #Deepfake of #ReadyPlayerOne in #ZAO, how many layers of meta-narrative inception are we at now? 🤔
Since this all started with @LeoDiCaprio I’ll fittingly leave you with my #KateWinslet #Rose #Deepfake in #ZAO 🌹
EDIT: converted that wrong, meant to be more around ~$1m USD/month.
An update on how I think #ZAO's facial replacement works in this thread (no, it's probably not AI machine learning):
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