Deepfake maps can mess with your sense of the world

View satellite images The expansion of large concentration camps in Xinjiang, China, between 2016 and 2018 provided some of the strongest evidence that there government campaign on more than a million Muslims, sparking international condemnation and sanctions.

Other aerial photos – of nuclear facilities in Iran and missile sites in North Korea, for example – have had a similar impact on world events. Now, image processing tools are made possible by Artificial intelligence It may make it difficult to accept such images at face value.

In a paper published online last month, a University of Washington professor Bo Chao Artificial intelligence techniques similar to those used to create the so-called deep fake To change satellite images of several cities. Zhao and colleagues switched features between images of Seattle and Beijing to show buildings where there are no buildings in Seattle and to remove structures and replace them with green spaces in Beijing.

use chow file algorithm call Course to process satellite images. The algorithm, developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, has been widely used for all kinds of image deception. It’s artificial training neural network To learn about the main characteristics of a particular image, such as a graphic style or features on a particular type of map. Then another algorithm helps improve the performance of the first by trying to detect when the image has been manipulated.

Map (top left) and satellite image (top right) of Tacoma. Bottom images have been modified to make Tacoma look like Seattle (bottom left) and Beijing (bottom right).

Courtesy of Zhao et al. 2021, Journal of Cartography and Geoinformatics

As with deep fake videos purporting to show people in dangerous situations, these images can mislead governments or spread on social media, planting false information or suspicious of true visual information.

“I absolutely think this is a huge problem that may not affect the average citizen tomorrow but will play a much bigger role behind the scenes in the next decade,” he says. Grant Mackenzie, an assistant professor of spatial data science at McGill University in Canada, was not involved in the work.

“Imagine a world where the state government, or any other actor, could realistically manipulate images to show either anything there or a different layout,” says McKenzie. “I’m not quite sure what can be done to stop it at this point.”

A few outrageously manipulated satellite images have already gone viral on social media, including take photo India was allegedly lit during the Hindu festival of Diwali apparently touched by hand. It may only be a matter of time before more sophisticated “deep fake” satellite imagery is used, for example, to disguise weapons facilities or wrongly justify military action.

Gabriel LimD., a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shornstein Center who focuses on media manipulation, says that maps can be used for disinformation without artificial intelligence. It refers to Pictures circulating on the Internet Which suggests that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not where she claimed to be during the January 6 Capitol Rebellion, as were Chinese passports. Show disputed area تظهر From the South China Sea as part of China. “No technology is great, but it can achieve similar goals,” Lim says.

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