Alphabet-owned company Jigsaw has unveiled a new tool called Assembler to help journalists spot doctored images and deepfakes, according to a blog post by CEO Jared Cohen.
Deepfake images and videos are created using artificial intelligence, transposing one person’s likeness onto another’s body, making it appear someone is doing something they aren’t. Although still in the early stages of complexity, as deepfake technology progresses, experts fear it could have profound impacts on everything from personal scandals to the outcome of elections. For journalists, deepfakes and doctored images represent a threat to accuracy and journalistic integrity.
As these kind of threats continue to emerge, Jigsaw “forecasts and confronts emerging threats, creating future-defining research and technology to keep our world safer,” including combating doctored images.
“Jigsaw’s work requires forecasting the most urgent threats facing the internet, and wherever we traveled these past years — from Macedonia to Eastern Ukraine to the Philippines to Kenya and the United States — we observed an evolution in how disinformation was being used to manipulate elections, wage war, and disrupt civil society,” writes Cohen.
Jigsaw is working with a select group of journalists and fact-checkers to test and improve Assembler before making it widely available.
“Assembler is an early stage experimental platform advancing new detection technology to help fact-checkers and journalists identify manipulated media,” adds Cohen. “In addition, the platform creates a space where we can collaborate with other researchers who are developing detection technology. We built it to help advance the field of science, and to help provide journalists and fact-checkers with strong signals that, combined with their expertise, can help them judge if and where an image has been manipulated. With the help of a small number of global news providers and fact checking organizations including Agence France-Presse, Animal Politico, Code for Africa, Les Décodeurs du Monde, and Rappler, we’re testing how Assembler performs in real newsrooms and updating it based on its utility and tester feedback.”
Assembler’s release coincides with Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai expressing his belief that tech companies must be responsible for the technology they create, rather than simply unleashing tech and leaving others to figure out the ethical dilemmas.