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Tech Diaries: What’s the whole Deepfakes fuss?

LinkedIn Deepfake Spy, 5G Rescue Ship, Pilot-less Planes, AR in your Cars & Textract Machine Learning tool

The main story of this Tech Diaries edition is the Deepfakes issue that has freaked out the U.S. Congress. It represents the class of synthetic media generated by AI and represents another dark side of technology— ringing alarm bells about what the implications of a sudden digital transformation on society as a whole can have. The disruption caused by deepfakes can have serious consequences on how we differentiate between right and wrong— as if the issue of “fake news” on social media & other platforms is not enough headache already. U.S. lawmakers have begun hearings on the issue, fearing the disruptive & deceptive technology may unfairly affect the upcoming U.S. presidential elections in 2020— as we saw, how a simple low-tech manipulation of U.S. President & House Speaker videos by rival groups created headlines earlier this year. Later some other tech developments around the world, but first things first…

LinkedIn deep-fake Spy

The real problem begins when advanced Deep Learning algorithms are used to create real-life images. This is the equivalent of giving the gift of imagination to machines. Basically, a deepfake is created by pitting against each other two computer programs, called Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs. This form of artificial intelligence has become a growing concern for policymakers and the scientific community as it is being used around for nefarious purposes. An artist uploaded an AI-generated video from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to Instagram last week to make a point about GANs & Facebook promised not to take it down.

But the biggest news that blew the issue wide open was a LinkedIn user named Katie Jones (pictured above), who appeared on the platform and began connecting with the Who’s Who of the Political Elite in Washington DC. Associated Press ‘ detailed report brought the issue of online forgery to the forefront and how easy it is to use professional networks like LinkedIn to spy on other people. The report goes on to determine that the 30-something redhead profile boasting a job at a top think tank was actually a phantom profile lurking on social media platforms like LinkedIn.
Many of the experts who reviewed the profile found the picture to be a work of computer-generated imagery with subtle variations that can be seen on close inspection, as shown in the picture above. They agree that it is an example of a typical GAN & could even have been a state-run operation — the profile has been mysteriously removed since the report surfaced. Is it scary enough? Try these two websites to see how realistic and dangerous these deep fakes have become!

5 G Search & Rescue Airship As the excitement surrounding the official launch and adoption of 5 G networks builds on the expectation of providing faster mobile networks, a South Korean company aims to use a futuristic network to launch an innovative new service in the form of a 5G-connected airship to be used for search & rescue missions (video above). The Skyship project, a brainchild of South Korea’s telecom giant KT Corp, brings science fiction to reality with this unmanned flyer that can carry eight drones using high-definition cameras and thermal imaging to search for life signs in disaster zones. With the 11-hour Starship Airtime, the drones can fly 100 kilometers from a control center. In addition, the Skyship robots can be deployed on the ground to provide first aid to injured people while creating a live link between the medicines through onboard cameras. This is a technology case that is put to good use.

Earlier at the Paris Air Show, the aviation giant Airbus announced that it has the technology to develop pilot-less planes and is currently in the process of convincing regulators and travelers about the idea. While the electric cars are heading towards mainstream adoption in the next decade or so, Airbus is also expecting hybrid or electric passenger planes to be ready by 2035. According to a recent survey by Ansys, 70 percent of respondents said they expect to fly in their lifetime without a pilot, while 58 percent consider doing so in the next decade or so. What’s it about you?

For a while now, AR for your Car Augmented Reality has been used in apps & video games, but the technology is moving on to more useful roles in cars like Mercedes, BMW and Land Rover. To provide a quick refresher, AR is different from VR (Virtual Reality) — while the former uses visuals to provide a layer of data about reality, the latter creates a completely different virtual world. AR can also add and subtract things using touch and sound. GMC’s 2020 pickups will provide a transparent trailer view option as shown above, while Land Rover uses a similar AR trick to make the front of a 2020 Evoque disappear so you can easily navigate difficult terrain. On the other hand, Mercedez is pioneering AR navigation in its latest A-Class models, where in a real-time camera view you can see the navigation instructions for different objects.

Textract Machine Learning And finally, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched Textract — a cloud-based, fully managed Machine Learning tool that can extract data from tables, forms, and entire text and data pages for you. However, it is currently only available in selected U.S. regions with expansion planned for next year. Textract is a powerful tool that supports various image formats including scans, PDFs & Photos and a range of document formats as well as the results presented in JSON text format. A number of AWS commercial clients are already using the tool in a short time to perform smart searches on thousands of documents. Now, just if I can find something to parse my blog to look for different terms…

Stay tuned for more interesting stuff from the Tech World.

Originally Published on Medium

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