Whereas the idea of “deepfakes,” or AI-generated artificial imagery, has been decried primarily in reference to involuntary depictions of individuals, the know-how is harmful (and fascinating) in different methods as properly. For example, researchers have proven that it may be used to govern satellite tv for pc imagery to provide real-looking — however completely faux — overhead maps of cities.
The examine, led by Bo Zhao from the University of Washington, is just not meant to alarm anybody however slightly to point out the dangers and alternatives concerned in making use of this slightly notorious know-how to cartography. In truth their method has as a lot in widespread with “fashion switch” strategies — redrawing photographs in an impressionistic, crayon, and arbitrary different fashions — than with deepfakes as they’re generally understood.
The crew educated a machine studying system on satellite tv for pc photographs of three totally different cities: Seattle, close by Tacoma, and Beijing. Every has its personal distinctive look, simply as a painter or medium does. For example, Seattle tends to have bigger overhanging greenery and narrower streets, whereas Beijing is extra monochrome and — within the photographs used for the examine — the taller buildings forged lengthy, darkish shadows. The system realized to affiliate particulars of a road map (like Google or Apple’s) with these of the satellite tv for pc view.
The ensuing machine studying agent, when given a road map, returns a realistic-looking fake satellite tv for pc picture of what that space would seem like 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 would possibly look in Seattle and Beijing.
An in depth inspection will present that the faux maps aren’t as sharp as the actual one, and there are in all probability some logical inconsistencies like streets that go nowhere and the like. However at a look the Seattle and Beijing photographs are completely believable.
One solely has to suppose for a couple of minutes to conceive of makes use of for faux maps like this, each authentic and in any other case. The researchers counsel that the method may very well be used to simulate imagery of locations for which no satellite tv for pc imagery is offered — like one among these cities within the days earlier than such issues have been potential, or for a deliberate growth or zoning change. The system doesn’t should imitate one other place altogether — it may very well be educated on a extra densely populated a part of the identical metropolis, or one with wider streets.
It may conceivably even be used, as this rather more whimsical project was, to make realistic-looking trendy maps from historical hand-drawn ones.
And may know-how like this be bent to much less constructive functions, the paper additionally seems to be 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 photographs or different geospatial knowledge,” mentioned Zhao in a UW information article, and positively as with different media that sort pondering has to go by the wayside as new threats seem. You possibly can learn the total paper on the journal Cartography and Geographic Information Science.
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