Whereas the idea of “deepfakes,” or AI-generated artificial imagery, has been decried primarily in reference to involuntary depictions of individuals, the expertise is harmful (and fascinating) in different methods as effectively. As an illustration, researchers have proven that it may be used to control satellite tv for pc imagery to supply real-looking — however completely pretend — overhead maps of cities.
The examine, led by Bo Zhao from the University of Washington, is just not meant to alarm anybody however somewhat to indicate the dangers and alternatives concerned in making use of this somewhat notorious expertise to cartography. In actual fact their strategy has as a lot in widespread with “type switch” methods — redrawing photos in an impressionistic, crayon and arbitrary different fashions — than with deepfakes as they’re generally understood.
The group skilled a machine studying system on satellite tv for pc photos of three totally different cities: Seattle, close by Tacoma and Beijing. Every has its personal distinctive look, simply as a painter or medium does. As an illustration, Seattle tends to have bigger overhanging greenery and narrower streets, whereas Beijing is extra monochrome and — within the photos used for the examine — the taller buildings forged lengthy, darkish shadows. The system realized to affiliate particulars of a avenue map (like Google or Apple’s) with these of the satellite tv for pc view.
The ensuing machine studying agent, when given a avenue map, returns a realistic-looking fake satellite tv for pc picture of what that space would appear to be if it have been in any of these cities. Within the following picture, the map corresponds to the highest proper satellite tv for pc picture of Tacoma, whereas the decrease variations present the way it may look in Seattle and Beijing.
A detailed inspection will present that the pretend maps aren’t as sharp as the true one, and there are most likely some logical inconsistencies like streets that go nowhere and the like. However at a look the Seattle and Beijing photos are completely believable.
One solely has to assume for a couple of minutes to conceive of makes use of for pretend maps like this, each reliable and in any other case. The researchers recommend that the approach may very well be used to simulate imagery of locations for which no satellite tv for pc imagery is obtainable — like one in all these cities within the days earlier than such issues have been attainable, or for a deliberate growth or zoning change. The system doesn’t should imitate one other place altogether — it may very well be skilled on a extra densely populated a part of the identical metropolis, or one with wider streets.
It might conceivably even be used, as this rather more whimsical project was, to make realistic-looking trendy maps from historic hand-drawn ones.
Ought to expertise like this be bent to much less constructive functions, the paper additionally appears to be like at methods to detect such simulated imagery utilizing cautious examination of colours and options.
The work challenges the overall assumption of the “absolute reliability of satellite tv for pc photos or different geospatial information,” stated Zhao in a UW information article, and positively as with different media that sort considering has to go by the wayside as new threats seem. You may learn the total paper on the journal Cartography and Geographic Information Science.