Creepy or helpful?
Detectives are trying something that appears to never have been done before: deepfaking a murder victim in a last-ditch attempt to bring his killer to justice.
As Euronews reports, Dutch police are describing their use of "deepfake" technology in the cold case of Sedar Soares' 2003 murder a "world first."
The 13-year-old Soares was shot dead in a parking garage in Rotterdam nearly twenty years ago, in what appears to be a classic case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the report notes. His killers were never caught.
Now, Rotterdam police have published a video of the boy walking on a soccer pitch, surrounded by his friends and family and imploring the public to come forward with any information they may have about the unsolved homicide.
As with most deepfaked video, the movements of the reanimated boy are uncanny.
"Somebody must know who murdered my darling brother," a voiceover, presumably of or imitating one of Soares' sibling, says in translated Dutch. "That’s why he has been brought back to life for this film."
Lillian van Duijvenbode, a Rotterdam police spokesperson, told the Agence France-Press that the cops "have already received dozens of tips" after releasing the video, though she admits that as of yet, they "haven’t yet checked if these leads are usable."
Though deepfakes can, in some occasions, be good — remember when memesters were using the tech to insert Nicolas Cage into every movie? — the ethical issues clearly shine through in this case.
"The potential benefits of deepfakes... are dwarfed by their potential harms," Seattle University researchers wrote in a 2020 paper. "Ultimately, deepfakes are about deceit. The goal of the effort is to create fantasies that cannot be distinguished from reality."
If this video leads to the catching of Soares' killer, it'll be incredible — but it's nevertheless a creepy thing for police to do, and falls into an ethical grey area.
READ MORE: 'World first': Dutch police use 'deepfake' video in appeal over boy's murder [Euronews]