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Deepfake video of Taylor Swift speaking Mandarin sparks AI discussion

ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES – American pop star Taylor Swift got the attention of her Chinese fans this week when clips of her speaking fluent Mandarin went viral on Chinese social media.

In a video posted on Chinese social media platform Weibo, the 33-year-old singer can be seen flaunting her Mandarin-speaking skills in what looks to be a talk show.

“Recently, I’ve been to many places, like Italy, France and Japan,” Swift said in Mandarin with a slight American twang. The video that was shared on October 21 and has since gained over six million views.

In another video, Swift talked about songs that get “left behind”, and how she wished that people could hear these tracks.

The twist? Swift owes her Mandarin-speaking prowess to artificial intelligence (AI).

The deepfake videos were generated by an AI tool from HeyGen, a Chinese start-up, reported The China Project.

The lip movements were synced to her Mandarin that sounded just like Swift’s real voice, making the videos so realistic that it led Chinese netizens to express their amazement at the technology, with comments like “This is awesome!”. Others asked for Mandarin versions of their favourite show.

But it also triggered discussion over the potential pitfalls that will come as AI gets more advanced, like scams and the loss of jobs.

Screenshot of the video with deepfake Taylor Swift. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES
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