Have you ever tried your hand at editing photos? Photography editing software like Photoshop makes it easy to doctor your photos, like taking the red out of someone's eyes. You can also get creative and use it to do things like put your son's head onto the body of a bodybuilder.
However, there have been some legal issues associated with photography editing software. Advertisers have been sued in the past for the misuse of Adobe's Photoshop. Now, Adobe is working on a new application called the "Photoshop of speech" that raises some serious ethical and security concerns.
Project Voco was recently demonstrated to the public. It is software that allows you to take an audio recording and alter it, making the speaker say words or phrases that they never actually said. The amazing thing is the altered words sound exactly like the speaker's voice.
This software hasn't actually been released to the public yet but doing so could be a cause for concern. This technology could undermine society's trust in journalism, which is already at a low-point. It could also be considered a security threat.
What are the risks?
Dr. Eddy Borges Rey told the BBC, "Inadvertently, in its quest to create software to manipulate digital media, Adobe has [already] drastically changed the way we engage with evidential material such as photographs. This makes it hard for lawyers, journalists, and other professionals who use digital media as evidence."
The risks posed by this type of software go beyond tricking people into making them believe statements that weren't actually said by someone. Businesses, including banks, have started implementing voiceprint checks to verify customers' identity over the phone. This is done with voice biometric systems to test the characteristics of a person's speech.
Dr. Steven Murdoch told the BBC, "Biometric companies say their products would not be tricked by this, because the things they are looking for are not the same things that humans look for when identifying people. But the only way to find out is to test them, and it will be some time before we know the answer."
Adobe says it is working to solve these risks. Like with photos, the software company could embed watermarks in the audio so it can be detected as altered.
Here is a video of Adobe's live presentation of the new software. You can see how it works and hear Adobe address how they're working on handling potential risks.