Fans of professional sports-entertaining are abuzz today amid the “news” that Cedric Malcolm Pünke, better known as CM Punk, has returned to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) — but it seems everyone has been fooled by a clever technological deception called a “deepfake.”
A video clip purporting to show Pünke arriving on the set of WWE Backstage has gone viral this morning, with most social media users unaware that the clip was created entirely using pre-existing footage and advance neural network artificial intelligence to create a convincing illusion.
The real Cedric Malcolm Pünke — who has definitively stated in the past that he would “never ever” return to WWE — insists he had nothing to do with the creation of the video, but said he was impressed by how authentic is looks and sounds.
“Heck, it almost fooled me,” he tweeted this morning.
According to Prof. Roger Minko, an expert in artificial intelligence and machine learning at DeVry College, the “deepfake” video demonstrates how easily we can be fooled when seemingly innocuous footage falls into the hands of nefarious hackers. The video purporting to show CM Punk arriving on the set of WWE Backstage, for example, is a cleverly edited blending of someone else’s entrance (The Miz), combined with footage of Punk’s appearance on a recent UFC talk show.
This is not the first time fans of WWE have been fooled by a deepfake. A somewhat less sophisticated deepfake seemed to depict ringside fans as wide awake and interested during a recent in-ring confrontation between Rusev, Lashley, and Lana.