Adobe Has Taught An AI To Recognise Fake Photos

Even if you know what to look for, spotting phoney photos on the internet isn’t always the easiest thing to do — and it’s only going to get harder. Fortunately Adobe — who you could strongly argue is responsible for the whole “photoshopping” thing — is on the front lines, fighting forgeries with an AI it’s taught to spot the telltales signs of tampering.


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A paper from Adobe Research, entitled “Learning Rich Features for Image Manipulation Detection” explains how researchers trained a neural network to recognise three types of manipulation — splicing, copy-move and removal — to sift the real from the unreal.

According to senior research scientist Vlad Morariu, a lot of it comes down to “imperceptible noise”, which is basically impossible for humans to notice, but a massive red flag to a machine:

Every image has its own types of imperceptible noise statistics, so when you manipulate an image, you actually move the noise statistics along with the content. We can … identify these small differences.

Image: Adobe Research

The paper mentions a two-pronged approach, using an RGB and noise stream, that was able to “[detect] tampering artifacts [and distinguish] between various tampering techniques”. Best of all, it proved robust to “augmentation methods” — that is, efforts from the forger to hide edits, either using noise or JPEG compression.


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Hopefully the research will find its way into an app or, better yet, be incorporated into search engines. Imagine Google Image Search auto-flagging suspect content? Sounds good to me.

[Open Access, via PetaPixel]