Russia chose a 36-year-old patriotic film star to send to space, sparking a race with Tom Cruise to be first to shoot a movie in orbit

Roscosmos_finalists
Yulia Peresild, here on the left, is pictured with two other finalists of an open casting call run by Russia’s space agency for “Vyzov,” a film set to be shot on the international space station in October this year.

  • Russia’s space agency announced the winner of an open contest to send an actor to space.
  • Yulia Peresild is due to take off for the ISS on October 5, the agency said Thursday.
  • Russia could beat a similarly-timed plan by Tom Cruise to shoot the first feature film in space.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Russia’s space agency announced the winner of an open contest to send an actor to the International Space Station (ISS) this year.

Russia aims to launch the team on October 5, in a bid to be the first feature film shot in space.

Yulia Peresild, a 36-year old actor, is scheduled to launch the same month Tom Cruise is slated to leave for the ISS to shoot a film with director Doug Liman.

Peresild was one of four finalists of an open audition run by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. The announcement that she had won the competition was made on Thursday.

She has appeared in more than 30 movies, including patriotic feature films like “The Battle for Sevastopol,” where she played a young Soviet woman fighting for the Red Army, The Guardian reported.

See the trailer below:

Peresild is due to start special space training – like centrifuge tests and parachute training – no later than June 1, Roscosmos said.

The training will be televised by one of Russia’s leading TV channels, Roscosmos said in a press release.

Two other finalists, Alena Mordovina, 33, and Alexey Dudin, 40, are also taking part in the training, and have been named backup actors for Peresild.

Film director Klim Shipenko and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov are due to accompany Peresild to the ISS. The team is set to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on October 5.

The movie, tentatively called “Vyzov” or “the Challenge,” will be a “space drama,” Roscosmos said. Few other details of its content exist.

In May 2020, NASA confirmed that it was working with Tom Cruise and Space X on a project to film the first movie aboard the ISS.

Later reports suggested the Cruise project could launch in October this year, which would give it an overlapping schedule with the Russia project.

The Roscosmos competition, launched last November, was open to professional and non-professional female actors.

Channel 1, the TV station running the contest, said in March it got 3,000 applicants and shortlisted 20 actors to undergo medical, physical, and psychological tests at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Space News reported on April 27.

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The Tom Cruise deepfakes were hard to create. But less sophisticated ‘shallowfakes’ are already wreaking havoc

tom cruise BURBANK, CA - JANUARY 30: Tom Cruise onstage during the 10th Annual Lumiere Awards at Warner Bros. Studios on January 30, 2019 in Burbank. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Advanced Imaging Society)
  • The convincing Tom Cruise deepfakes that went viral last month took lots of skill to create.
  • But less sophisticated “shallowfakes” and other synthetic media are already creating havoc.
  • DARPA’s AI experts mapped out how hard it would be to create these emerging types of fake media.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The coiffed hair, the squint, the jaw clench, and even the signature cackle – it all looks and sounds virtually indistinguishable from the real Tom Cruise.

But the uncanny lookalikes that went viral on TikTok last month under the handle @deeptomcruise were deepfakes, a collaboration between Belgian visual-effects artist Chris Ume and Tom Cruise impersonator Miles Fisher.

The content was entertaining and harmless, with the fake Cruise performing magic tricks, practicing his golf swing, and indulging in a Bubble Pop. Still, the videos – which have racked up an average of 5.6 million views each – reignited people’s fears about the dangers of the most cutting-edge type of fake media.

“Deepfakes seem to tap into a really visceral part of people’s minds,” Henry Ajder, a UK-based deepfakes expert, told Insider.

“When you watch that Tom Cruise deepfake, you don’t need an analogy because you’re seeing it with your own two eyes and you’re being kind of fooled even though you know it’s not real,” he said. “Being fooled is a very intimate experience. And if someone is fooled by a deepfake, it makes them sit up and pay attention.”

Read more: What is a deepfake? Everything you need to know about the AI-powered fake media

The good news: it’s really hard to make such a convincing deepfake. It took Ume two months to train the AI-powered tool that generated the deepfakes, 24 hours to edit each minute-long video, and a talented human impersonator to mimic the hair, body shape, mannerisms, and voice, according to The New York Times.

The bad news: it won’t be that hard for long, and major advances in the technology in recent years have unleashed a wave of apps and free tools that enable people with few skills or resources to create increasingly good deepfakes.

Nina Schick, a deepfake expert and former advisor to Joe Biden, told Insider this “rapid commodification of the technology” is already is wreaking havoc.

“Are you just really concerned about the high-fidelity side of this? Absolutely not,” Shick said, adding that working at the intersection of geopolitics and technology has taught her that “it doesn’t have to be terribly sophisticated for it to be effective and do damage.”

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is well aware of this diverse landscape, and its Media Forensics (MediFor) team is working alongside private sector researchers to develop tools that can detect manipulated media, including deepfakes as well cheapfakes and shallowfakes.

As part of its research, DARPA’s MediFor team mapped out different types of synthetic media – and the level of skill and resources an individual, group, or an adversarial country would need to create it.

MediFor threat landscape.pptx

Hollywood-level productions – like those in “Star Wars: Rogue One” or “The Irishman” – require lots of resources and skill to create, even though they typically aren’t AI-powered (though Disney is experimenting with deepfakes). On the other end of the scale, bad actors with little training have used simple video-editing techniques to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear drunk and incite violence in Ivory Coast, South Sudan, Kenya, and Burma.

Shick said the Facebook-fueled genocide against Rohingya Muslims also relied mostly on these so-called “cheapfakes” and “shallowfakes” – synthetic or manipulated media altered using less advanced, non-AI tools.

But deepfakes aren’t just being used to spread political misinformation, and experts told Insider ordinary people may have the most to lose if they become a target.

Last month, a woman was arrested in Pennsylvania and charged with cyber harassment on suspicion of making deepfake videos of teen cheerleaders naked and smoking, in an attempt to get them kicked off her daughter’s squad.

“It’s almost certain that we’re going to see some kind of porn version of this app,” Shick said. In a recent op-ed in Wired, she and Ajder wrote about a bot Ajder helped discover on Telegram that turned 100,000 user-provided photos of women and underage children into deepfake porn – and how app developers need to take proactive steps to prevent this kind of abuse.

Experts told Insider they’re particularly concerned about these types of cases because the victims often lack the money and status to set the record straight.

“The celebrity porn [deepfakes] have already come out, but they have the resources to protect themselves … the PR team, the legal team … millions of supporters,” Shick said. “What about everyone else?”

As with most new technologies, from facial recognition to social media to COVID-19 vaccines, women, people of color, and other historically marginalized groups tend to be disproportionately the victims of abuse and bias stemming from their use.

To counter the threat posed by deepfakes, experts say society needs a multipronged approach that includes government regulation, proactive steps by technology and social media companies, and public education about how to think critically and navigate our constantly evolving information ecosystem.

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