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Microsoft just released a much-needed tool that sniffs out deepfakes ahead of the election

This is definitely going to come in handy ahead of the US election.

deepfake president trump
Image: YouTube

Worried about the growing trend of deepfakes, digitally-altered images, videos, or sounds, that use artificial intelligence (AI) to change the original with a variety of additions, from subtly adding words or completely replacing the face of the person talking. With the election coming up, Microsoft has just released some new tools to help political campaigners and media organizations spot altered media.

The detection tool is called Microsoft Video Authenticator (MVA), and it analyzes videos to score them with a confidence score that will tell the user if the footage was manipulated or not. The tool is powered by algorithms created by Microsoft’s Responsible AI team and the Microsoft AI, Ethics, and Effects in Engineering (AETHER) Committee.

So, how does it work? Everyone can tell if a popular video is heavily deepfaked, right? Well, this tool is designed to spot the subtle tweaks that you might overlook at first glance. Check out the image below for an example of how it works:

microsoft's new deepfake detector at work

Image: Microsoft

The other half of this equation is a tool powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud, which lets content creators upload hashes of their videos; this way, Microsoft has a database of known-good values to check against. That pairs with a reader that can scan the signature of videos and check against the database, hopefully letting the user know if a piece of media is faked or not. It’s unclear at the moment if Microsoft is making these tools public yet, or if they are only being offered to approved sources like the media.

Oh, and if you think you’re up to the challenge of spotting deepfakes? Microsoft has a website where you can play a game called Spot the Deepfake. Go try it out, and see exactly how difficult the problem is for human moderators to deal with.

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