Facebook is spearheading a competition to find new ways to identify computer-altered videos known as deepfakes. But some artificial-intelligence specialists said the strategy might backfire.
Those experts said the contest will likely hasten the already accelerating arms race between the malicious actors using AI to create increasingly realistic faked videos and the technology companies racing to detect them.
“Any algorithm used to identify deepfakes could also be used to make deepfakes better,” said Rachel Thomas, the co-founder of machine-learning lab Fast.ai.
Already, top artificial-intelligence researchers across the country have been racing to defuse the computer-generated fake videos as fears grow that they could undermine candidates and mislead voters in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election. Many fear these videos could be deployed in a similar manner to the way fake-news stories and deceptive Facebook groups were used to influence the 2016 election.
While people have altered videos for as long as the technology has existed, AI software developed by Google has increased the accessibility and sophistication of deepfakes.
And the tools keep advancing and growing in popularity. Last week, a Chinese app called Xao became the most popular download in China, allowing users to virtually graft their faces onto videos of actors from scenes in movies and television shows.
Detecting deepfakes is becoming significantly more difficult as the technology improves. Detection often comes down to gestures as subtle as a chin movement or a blink of an eye.
Facebook’s competition, called the Deepfake Detection Challenge, is a partnership between Facebook, the technology-industry consortium Partnership on AI, Microsoft and experts from seven academic institutions. Events will begin in October and run until March. Facebook said that it has dedicated $10 million to fund the competition.
Facebook said it will release the data set for the challenge later this year. Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said the firm hopes the competition will help the company get better and create more open-source tools.