Adobe Photoshop created 28 years ago has been used as a powerful image editor, but more popularly to manipulate images for deception, becoming a synonym for edited images. The constant updates in the software, has made it quite simple to create photorealistic images that seem entirely genuine. Further more updates added last year eradicated slightest trust one can have over the authenticity of an image.
Existing verification tools can scan an image file’s metadata but were found to be not so useful. Post spending 14 years researching (that was carried out in conjunction with the US government agency Darpa ) ways to spot image manipulation, taught an artificial intelligence network to recognize signs of colour change and noise inconsistencies in tens of thousands of pictures .
Morarium’s initial study focused on three common manipulation techniques splicing, copy-move and removal. “Each of these techniques tend to leave certain artefacts, such as strong contrast edges, deliberately smoothed areas, or different noise patterns,” he said.
Looking closely on a pixel level for signs of tampering, a digital forensic specialist may take hours to examine an image to determine its originality. Morariu developed a neural network that can deploy two deep photographic analysis techniques and quickly determine if the image is genuine or not.
The algorithm might also detect differences in illumination and unusual compression in the future. He added that Adobe, which brought image manipulation capabilities to the masses, was “uniquely positioned” to create tools to determine authenticity.
At this stage, it is relatively limited to analyzing an image using just two forensic techniques, and undoubtedly this algorithm could be expanded to more techniques in the future.
It is vitally important that some kind of ability to track the veracity of an image is available to all. Now the possibility of whether this AI can be easily outsmarted by a devious image retoucher is yet to be seen, but the battle for truth and authenticity is certainly kicking up into new terrain.