Google parent Alphabet takes on deepfakes with bogus-photo detector
The tool is meant to help journalists check for photo manipulation. That could be handy during this politically tense election season.
Stephen Shanklandprincipal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Google parent company Alphabet has created a free tool called Assembler to help determine if a photo is real or doctored, an effort designed to help journalists and fact-checkers fight deepfakes and other attempts to manipulate the truth. The tool combines a collection of tests to spot evidence of effects like pasting part of one photo into another, editing brightness or deleting regions from the background.
News and fact-checking organizations testing Alphabet's Assembler tool include Agence France-Presse, Animal Politico, Code for Africa, Les Décodeurs du Monde and Rappler, Jigsaw Chief Executive Jared Cohen said in a blog post Tuesday.
"Fact-checkers and journalists need a way to stay ahead of the latest manipulation techniques and make it easier to check the authenticity of images and other assets," Cohen said.
But ordinary folks won't be able to upload that suspicious photo shared on Facebook to check its veracity.
"It's an arms race between those coming up with the tools to counter the problem and bad actors, and we want to be sure our work tips the scales in favor of the good guys," said Jigsaw Product Manager Santiago Andrigo in a statement. "Considering this, we are being very careful and intentional about who gets access to Assembler, and very diligent in monitoring for potential signs of abuse."
Originally published Feb. 4, 12:16 p.m. PT. Update, 1:28 p.m.: Adds comment from Alphabet.