Dutch police present a ‘deepfake’ video to try to solve the murder of a 13-year-old boy | Technology
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The deepfake they are hyper-realistic video montages created by means of artificial intelligence. Dutch police have used the increasingly sophisticated technique to try to solve the murder of a teenager, Sedar Soares, who was shot dead in 2003 while throwing snowballs with his friends in Rotterdam. The case is still open, and the agents, with the permission of the family, have now presented a film where the boy himself appears on the scene as if he were alive. In the video, while he walks looking at the viewer, his sister Janet asks for help: “Someone must know who killed my dear little brother.” Police investigators describe the work as a world first in this type of investigation and there is a reward of 40,000 euros for the clue that allows them to find out who did it.
In the video, the deceased Sedar is virtually resurrected for 1.32 minutes and greets dressed in a navy blue tracksuit and with a ball from a soccer field, his favorite sport. Without taking his eyes off the viewer, he parades down an aisle of honor, made up of his family, friends, classmates, and teachers from the school he attended, until he is in the foreground. Throughout the tour, Janet Soares explains how the boy died and asks for everyone’s collaboration. As Sedar stands up and puts the ball down, she says, “You know what? He speaks now”. The sister who has acted as narrator emphasizes: “We will never be able to get him back, but hopefully this will provide some answers.” The scene takes place at night in a floodlit stadium and the video is featured on the Dutch police website and also on YouTube.
In a deepfake, image and sound are manipulated by algorithms, and existing videos or images can also be used to create counterfeit content with an end result that looks authentic. In this case, the experts only had a photo of the minor taken shortly before his death and they called an actor who resembled Sedar, who was tall and thin. The interpreter walked among family and friends on the soccer field and, later, the authentic face of the boy was added. The result is shocking and emotional at the same time because the deceased continues to look 13 years old, while his friends are now in their thirties and watch him pass by them.
On February 1, 2003, Sedar Soares was playing with other children in the snow on the roof of the car park of a Rotterdam metro station. They threw balls at passing vehicles and a woman said she saw a man get out of one of the hit cars “with a gun in his hands.” The suspect turned out to be Gerald H., a citizen with a drug conviction and a prior conviction for a shooting. There were other similar testimonies and the judges concluded that he killed the minor by shooting several times at the group of boys. Sedar was hit in the head and died a day later. In 2005, the subject was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder, although the weapon was not found. In 2006, however, he won the appeal and was released after several witnesses recanted his statements.
The case has returned to square one, but 18 months ago, a team specializing in cold cases uncovered new leads. Are the cold cases, cases closed, according to the English term also used in the Netherlands, and they suspect that the boy may have been the innocent victim of a clash between underworld gangs and that he received a stray bullet in a drug deal in which a of the parties tries to steal the entire shipment and take the money. With the deepfakeThey hope that some witness will remember what they saw or heard that day and call them.
“Sedar was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Almost 20 years later, we are looking for a different witness. Not to those who happened to be passing by, but to those who might know what happened before, during and after what appears to be a gang robbery,” explains Daan Annegarn, a detective with the National Investigation and Communications Team of the police in the alert. made public by the Rotterdam agents to help search for witnesses. The same expert adds in that writing: “It was necessary to cross a barrier, because asking family members if we could bring their loved one back to life through a deepfake it is not anything; but we are convinced that it will help the detention.” They hope that this call will resonate within the criminal world.
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