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Sci-Tech

Deepfake your dance moves with an AI body double

Artificial intelligence beams Bruno Mars' moves onto anyone's body.

A target dancer gets some slick skills thanks to AI.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

You don't have moves like Beyonce. You have two left feet. People check to see if you're feeling OK when you're on the dance floor. 

It's OK to dance to the beat of a different drum, but an AI system developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, could give you moves worthy of Michael Jackson or even a prima ballerina. 

It's reminiscent of AI-generated "deepfake" videos that place a person's face onto another's body, but this time it's all about the boogie.

Berkeley's Caroline Chan uploaded a video last week showing the AI in action. The system is the subject of a paper titled Everybody Dance Now (PDF). The team describes it as "a simple method for 'do as I do' motion transfer."  

The AI analyzes videos of both a target dancer getting down and a source video of someone who can really burn up the dance floor. It translates the dancers into moving stick figures and then imposes the smooth moves onto the target's body, generating a video that makes it look like anyone can cut a rug in style.

"With our framework, we create a variety of videos, enabling untrained amateurs to spin and twirl like ballerinas, perform martial arts kicks or dance as vibrantly as pop stars," the researchers wrote. 

One of the demonstrations uses pop star Bruno Mars' moves from his That's What I Like music video and lends his skills to two different target dancers. 

The illusion isn't perfect. You can see some waviness in the dancers' bodies in the generated videos, but it's still a slick demonstration of what AI can do. 

The word "deepfake" doesn't appear anywhere in the paper. Deepfake videos that involve face-swapping or altering a person's mouth to make it seem like he's saying something he isn't are a growing cause for concern. 

Community discussion site Reddit cracked down on deepfake pornography earlier this year and the political world is worried about the potential for the spread of disinformation through faked videos.

The Berkeley team's dancing project is tremendously fun, but also illustrates the rapid advancement in AI systems. It's a good reminder to question the validity of what you see in videos online. It may turn out that your cousin isn't the second coming of Ginger Rogers after all. 

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