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 effectively. 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 supposed to alarm anybody however relatively to indicate the dangers and alternatives concerned in making use of this relatively notorious know-how to cartography. Actually their strategy has as a lot in frequent with “model switch” methods — redrawing pictures in an impressionistic, crayon, and arbitrary different fashions — than with deepfakes as they’re generally understood.
The staff educated a machine studying system on satellite tv for pc pictures of three completely 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 pictures used for the examine — the taller buildings solid 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 would possibly look in Seattle and Beijing.
An in depth inspection will present that the faux maps aren’t as sharp as the true 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 pictures 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 professional and in any other case. The researchers counsel that the approach may very well be used to simulate imagery of locations for which no satellite tv for pc imagery is out there — 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 need to 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 historic hand-drawn ones.
And will know-how like this be bent to much less constructive functions, the paper additionally seems at methods to detect such simulated imagery utilizing cautious examination of colours and options.
The work challenges the final assumption of the “absolute reliability of satellite tv for pc pictures or different geospatial knowledge,” 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 possibly can learn the total paper on the journal Cartography and Geographic Information Science.