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These Tools Could Help Protect Our Pictures From AI

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Framing a shot.

Tools to deal with AI maniupulation of images are neither perfect nor sufficient on their own. You could still take a screenshot of an image protected with PhotoGuard and use an AI system to edit it, for example.

Credit: Stephanie Arnett/MITTR | Pexels, Midjourney

Earlier this year, when I realized how ridiculously easy generative AI has made it to manipulate people's images, I maxed out the privacy settings on my social media accounts and swapped my Facebook and Twitter profile pictures for illustrations of myself.

The revelation came after playing around with Stable Diffusion–based image editing software and various deepfake apps. With a headshot plucked from Twitter and a few clicks and text prompts, I was able to generate deepfake porn videos of myself and edit the clothes out of my photo. As a female journalist, I've experienced more than my fair share of online abuse. I was trying to see how much worse it could get with new AI tools at people's disposal.

While nonconsensual deepfake porn has been used to torment women for years, the latest generation of AI makes it an even bigger problem. These systems are much easier to use than previous deepfake tech, and they can generate images that look completely convincing.

Image-to-image AI systems, which allow people to edit existing images using generative AI, "can be very high quality … because it's basically based off of an existing single high-res image," Ben Zhao, a computer science professor at the University of Chicago, tells me. "The result that comes out of it is the same quality, has the same resolution, has the same level of details, because oftentimes [the AI system] is just moving things around."

From MIT Technology Review
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