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Tencent Cloud announces Deepfakes-as-a-Service for $145

Three minutes of video, 100 sentences of speech, and 24 hours gets you a bot to front your livestreams and answer questions

Tencent Cloud has announced it's offering a digital human production platform – essentially Deepfakes-as-a-Service (DFaaS).

According to Chinese media and confirmed to The Reg by Tencent, the service needs just three minutes of live-action video and 100 spoken sentences – and a $145 fee – to create a high-definition digital human.

Gestating the creation requires just 24 hours. Making people hasn't been that quick since Eden.

The digital characters are available in half bodies or full bodies, and the service is available in both Chinese and English.

Some aspects, like background and tone, are customizable. The videos avoid the flat intonation and single speech rhythm that plagues traditional acoustic models by using an in-house small-sample timbre customization technology that relies on deep learning acoustic models and neural network vocoders.

Chen Lei, general manager of Tencent Cloud Intelligent Digital Human Products, said the web colossus hopes to build an automated "AI+ Digital Intelligent Human Factory" and rely on a self-service one-stop platform for production, sales and service.

The planned digital human factory relies on the Tencent Cloud TI platform – a machine learning platform that offers more than ten AI algorithms.

Tencent offers five styles for its digital humans: 3D realistic, 3D semi-realistic, 3D cartoon, 2D real person, and 2D cartoon. Customized Q&As can be created for the digital human, turning them into a type of deepfaked chatbot.

Tencent seems keenest on using these creations to host live-streamed infomercials – a popular form of e-commerce in China.

Local media also reported Tencent can create doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

What could possibly go wrong?? The Reg wonders.

AI-created images are becoming increasingly hard to distinguish from real images. Examples include recent AI-created images of former US president Donald Trump being arrested*, and the Pope wearing a designer white puffer jacket.

A deepfaked pro-Chinese propaganda video featuring news anchors was recently essentially indistinguishable from real videos, at least at first glance.

And while realistic AI image generators are readily available, creating believable AI video has proven harder to achieve. At $145 per video, Tencent has therefore made synthetic spokespeople far more accessible.

As one might expect, Beijing has already stepped in to regulate deepfake tech. In January the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) began requiring "deep synthesis service providers" to ensure their AI algorithms are not being misused for illegal activities – such as fraud, scams, and fake information.

"Services that provide functions such as intelligent dialogue, synthesized human voice, human face generation, and immersive realistic scenes that generate or significantly change information content, shall be marked prominently to avoid public confusion or misidentification. It is required that no organization or individual shall use technical means to delete, tamper with, or conceal relevant marks," the CAC said at the time. ®

* This really did happen, of course, but the fake images of Trump struggling with cops were more dramatic than the reality.

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