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Insights & Thoughts

I Created a ‘NEW’ (Fake) Portfolio – and So Can You!

By Hanssie on January 9th 2014

Tired of your old images? Think they need some sprucing up? In seconds, you, too, can have a brand new portfolio. All you have to do is type in your name to the Pro-folio website and within seconds, you have a bright shiny new portfolio of images stolen borrowed temporarily from the Internet. Don’t like the images in your new portfolio, no worries, the Pro-folio algorithm can create as many as 690,903,803 trillion fake identities, so you have a few to choose from.

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Royal Academy of Art design student, Sures Kumar, has written a program for his Scientific Hoax project, that can take information from open source to create a portfolio complete with your (real) name, (fake) educational background and (someone else’s) images. Using images pulled from Behance- without permission I might add- the “entire point of the project” is to fool people, according to Kumar.

“There will be a point where we won’t be able to differentiate a real human identity from a machine generated one,” Kumar writes via an article by FastCompany. “By creating a model prototype of such identity creating machine, Pro-Folio also aims to question possible motivations to create such identities.”

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With the rampant plagiarism that is permeating our industry, can this tool be used for anything good? Kumar urges people to see the deeper meaning behind his project. In a comment made in defense of Pro-folio, Kumar states, “The idea is not to steal and make money or create real people’s portfolios. The portfolios created through this website are completely fictional even though it has people’s name on it.” (Um, so, using someone else’s images without permission and calling them your own is called…what exactly?)

Pro-folio will rank the images based on your location and user behavior so that it can pull the proper images to make your faux portfolio more believable.

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“The idea is to show that a machine (few lines of code) can pick up information from random sources, make sense of it and mash it up in a meaningful way to fool us ‘humans’. I would like the audience to think about machine-generated identities and their influence in our society. If this project disturbs you, it’s the right time to think “what sort of systems do we have in place online to differentiate a real human identity from a machine generated one.” Can we stop large scale organizations from doing this? Theoretically anyone with the right infrastructure can scrap the entire internet for intelligence to come up with extremely believable identities. My intention is to raise such questions among the audiences and possibly encourage discussion.”

[REWIND: Is Social Media Destroying Copyright Protection? – Q&A]

Sure, he brings up a great point. It’s a scary place where machines can do the thinking, (Hello, Siri – well, kind of. Siri can’t seem to understand a word I am saying, and has no sense of direction). But did we really need an algorithm to prove that to us? One that takes someone else’s images to do so? Perhaps instead of shedding light on the issue, maybe he just paved the way for someone with dishonest intentions with a road map of how easily it can be done?  I can’t think of one way Pro-folio can be used for good, but I can think of a few trillion ways, 690,903,803 to be exact, it might be used for evil.

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Sadly, I cannot show off my new portfolio as the site is “undergoing some technical changes,” but when it’s back up, Watch out, World! I’m gonna wow you with all “my” new images.

[Via @Vimeo/Fast Company]

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com. Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. David

    What a load of bs. He could have easily coded the site to randomly create names, backgrounds and collect pulled images. That would 100% back his idea of machine generated identities. Allowing users to input their own names, or worse the names of others he’s giving the control back to “humans”. Which is counter to his point about completely machine generated identities.
    Either he hasn’t thought his project through, or he wants to stir up controversy to bring attention to his project.

    It’s a lot less harmful if his code creates identities on his own to demo his project and point. Giving that ability to people gives and excuse and method of plagiarism, if only to prove his original thesis, it’s a stupid way of doing so.

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  2. Kishore Sawh

    well this is going to be problematic…

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  3. Jesper Anhede

    Ouch, that was bad news!

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    • Hanssie

      But according to the designer, it makes you think right?? **facepalm**

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