Forbes: $ADBE Preparing for Worst w/ Deep Fakes

Forbes headline: DeepFake Epidemic Is Looming—And Adobe Is Preparing For The Worst

Jun 29, 2022, 06:30am EDT

Sub-headline: The maker of PhotoShop and Premier Pro gave the world AI-powered tools to create convincing fakes. Now CEO Shantanu Narayen wants to clean up the mess.
By Aayushi Pratap

Imagine a deep fake video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which her speech is intentionally slurred and the words she uses are changed to deliver a message that’s offensive to large numbers of voters. Now imagine that the technology used to create the video is so sophisticated that it appears completely real, rendering the manipulation undetectable, unlike clumsy deep fakes of Pelosi that circulated – and were quickly debunked – in 2020 and 2021. What would be the impact of such a video on closely contested House races in a midterm election?

That’s the dilemma Adobe, maker of the world’s most popular tools for photo and video editing, faces as it undergoes a top-to-bottom review and redesign of its product mix using artificial intelligence and deep learning techniques. That includes upgrades to the company’s signature Photoshop software and Premier Pro video-editing tool. But it’s also true that to “Photoshop” something is now a verb with negative connotations – a reality with which Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen is all too familiar.


So, three years ago, Adobe launched something called the Content Authenticity Initiative, starting with a handful of media and technology industry partners. It’s an enterprise that has grown to encompass more than 700 companies, with global events to publicize the push for “provenance,” as the 59-year-old Narayen calls it – in which designers and consumers of content can, if they choose to, create and track a digital trail that shows who is responsible for a given video or image and any changes they made to it.

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More about this brave new world of digital alterations for photos, videos - and by extension - art:

Adobe also faces growing competition from smaller rivals such as Australian graphic design platform Canva and U.S-based Docusign. “Adobe was a little late to respond to the market space that Canva pursued … a market space that was actually not professional designers,” says Chris Ross, an analyst at Gartner.

Much cheaper (starting at just $120/year) and easier-to-use than Adobe’s offerings, Canva has quickly evolved into a real threat. After all, who wants to pay $600/year for a Creative Suite subscription – and spend hours learning Illustrator – just to design a menu or a wedding invitation? In September, Canva, which is less than decade old, was valued at $40 billion. Melanie Perkins, its 35-year-old CEO, is currently worth an estimated $6.5 billion.

Adobe is responding. In December it launched Creative Cloud Express, a new, even cheaper than Canva, application aimed at novice users from students to social media influencers. More broadly, the company’s attitude is anything but complacent. Adobe has mounted a drive to reinvent all its products using artificial intelligence and deep learning techniques – an initiative known internally as “AI First” – which can make time-consuming edits in Photoshop possible within minutes rather than hours. “AI provides features like sky replacement, which is in one click of a button, you’re changing blue to gray,” says Dana Rao, Adobe’s general counsel and chief trust officer. “Then you can go in and make minute adjustments, but it’s a much faster task.”