Can you tell real faces from fake AI-created ones? It's tough! Plus: Facebook's chief AI scientist talks hardware

Also, DeepMind published new code to help train agents play football


Roundup It's Monday. It's a new week. The coffee's on. The hangover's over. Let's brighten your morning with some developments from the world of machine learning.

More AI fakery: A seemingly growing number of academics, industry types, and policy wonks are wringing their hands off over the dangers and perils of fake content being pumped out by AI at the moment. Here’s two more websites for everyone to fret over: they show just how realistic neural networks are getting at copying human faces and, perhaps even more worryingly, airbnb adverts.

If you think you can’t be fooled by dumb machines then put yourself to the test with this game that challenges you, in each round, to pick from two side-by-side photos which one is a genuine snap of a human, the other being a computer-generated one.

For the game, Which Face is Real?, like the other website, This Person Does Not Exist, all the AI-crafted images were created by Nvidia’s Style-GAN. Not to boast, but we played it and managed to cruise through, picking the right answer nearly all the time.

However, we came across one example that completely flummoxed us. You’d think that the lady with the different coloured eyes was created by software instead of the more normal-looking guy on the right, but, no, we were wrong.

style_gan_game

The picture on the left is a real photo, and the right is the fake one made by Style-GAN.

Which Face is Real? was created by Jevin West, an assistant professor, and Carl Bergstrom, a professor, both at the University of Washington.

If that spooked you out, then here’s more AI trickery. Everything on This Airbnb Does Not Exist is completely bogus. All the images and text are, again, forged by StyleGAN.

“None of the pictures, nor the text, came directly from the real world,” said the site’s creator, Christopher Schmidt, a Google engineer. “The listing titles, the descriptions, the picture of the host, even the pictures of the rooms: They are all fevered dreams of computers. It may be that we all need to think a little harder going forward before deciding something is real."

Get ready not for fake news and articles, but convincing fake accounts and profiles, we suspect.

AI hardware: Yann LeCun, Facebook’s AI veep and chief scientist, spoke at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference last week about the new types of hardware needed to push progress in AI.

At the moment, most neural networks are trained and ran using GPUs. They’re pretty good at performing calculations in parallel so it’s handy for performing tons of matrix calculations quickly, but they can be quite expensive and aren’t optimised for all model architectures.

LeCun outlines three different types of chips needed for specialised tasks. A chip for training requires rapid speeds so researchers don’t have to wait around for their results, and can tinker with their machine learning code more quickly to finetune the optimum model. Once the neural network is set in stone, it should run on another chip that doesn’t need as much power and is less expensive. If you want to access it via servers, however, then another type of hardware is needed for data centers. Smaller models that can fit onto devices like smartphones require cheap accelerators that can perform on the fly.

“This might require us to reinvent the way we do arithmetic in circuits,” he said. “So, people are trying to design new ways of representing numbers that will be more efficient.”

Self-driving cars also get blinded by the Sun: Autonomous cars being tested in Boston can’t see the colour of traffic lights due to solar glare.

NuTonomy, a self-driving car startup that launched a fleet of pilot taxis in Singapore, admitted that sometimes the “low evening sun and solar glare” make it difficult for its cars to see the traffic lights.

In a testing report, first publicized by Xconomy, it said: “In a sense, the challenge for an AV’s sensors resembles the challenge for human drivers: it can be difficult to perceive the state of a traffic light while staring into the sun. Likewise, solar glare can interfere with our traffic light detection software.”

If the sensors can’t detect a green light, human drivers have to take over. NuTonomy said it was trying to solve the issue by adding glare shields and improving the software and hardware.

AI football: Have you ever wanted to train a tiny team of bots to play football? Well, here’s your chance. DeepMind have published code to help set up a virtual environment with the game engine MuJoCo.

A friendly competitive game of football encourages agents to cooperate with one another, apparently. At first they’re pretty clumsy and run around randomly, but eventually they’re able to dribble and pass the ball to one another.

If you feel like testing out your own reinforcement learning algorithms, then here’s the code and a paper, emitted this month, with more details. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • NASA's InSight doomed as Mars dust coats solar panels
    The little lander that couldn't (any longer)

    The Martian InSight lander will no longer be able to function within months as dust continues to pile up on its solar panels, starving it of energy, NASA reported on Tuesday.

    Launched from Earth in 2018, the six-metre-wide machine's mission was sent to study the Red Planet below its surface. InSight is armed with a range of instruments, including a robotic arm, seismometer, and a soil temperature sensor. Astronomers figured the data would help them understand how the rocky cores of planets in the Solar System formed and evolved over time.

    "InSight has transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and set the stage for future missions," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. "We can apply what we've learned about Mars' inner structure to Earth, the Moon, Venus, and even rocky planets in other solar systems."

    Continue reading
  • The ‘substantial contributions’ Intel has promised to boost RISC-V adoption
    With the benefit of maybe revitalizing the x86 giant’s foundry business

    Analysis Here's something that would have seemed outlandish only a few years ago: to help fuel Intel's future growth, the x86 giant has vowed to do what it can to make the open-source RISC-V ISA worthy of widespread adoption.

    In a presentation, an Intel representative shared some details of how the chipmaker plans to contribute to RISC-V as part of its bet that the instruction set architecture will fuel growth for its revitalized contract chip manufacturing business.

    While Intel invested in RISC-V chip designer SiFive in 2018, the semiconductor titan's intentions with RISC-V evolved last year when it revealed that the contract manufacturing business key to its comeback, Intel Foundry Services, would be willing to make chips compatible with x86, Arm, and RISC-V ISAs. The chipmaker then announced in February it joined RISC-V International, the ISA's governing body, and launched a $1 billion innovation fund that will support chip designers, including those making RISC-V components.

    Continue reading
  • FBI warns of North Korean cyberspies posing as foreign IT workers
    Looking for tech talent? Kim Jong-un's friendly freelancers, at your service

    Pay close attention to that resume before offering that work contract.

    The FBI, in a joint advisory with the US government Departments of State and Treasury, has warned that North Korea's cyberspies are posing as non-North-Korean IT workers to bag Western jobs to advance Kim Jong-un's nefarious pursuits.

    In guidance [PDF] issued this week, the Feds warned that these techies often use fake IDs and other documents to pose as non-North-Korean nationals to gain freelance employment in North America, Europe, and east Asia. Additionally, North Korean IT workers may accept foreign contracts and then outsource those projects to non-North-Korean folks.

    Continue reading
  • Elon Musk says Twitter buy 'cannot move forward' until spam stats spat settled
    A stunning surprise to no one in this Solar System

    Elon Musk said his bid to acquire and privatize Twitter "cannot move forward" until the social network proves its claim that fake bot accounts make up less than five per cent of all users.

    The world's richest meme lord formally launched efforts to take over Twitter last month after buying a 9.2 per cent stake in the biz. He declined an offer to join the board of directors, only to return asking if he could buy the social media platform outright at $54.20 per share. Twitter's board resisted Musk's plans at first, installing a "poison pill" to hamper a hostile takeover before accepting the deal, worth over $44 billion.

    But then it appears Musk spotted something in Twitter's latest filing to America's financial watchdog, the SEC. The paperwork asserted that "fewer than five percent" of Twitter's monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) in the first quarter of 2022 were fake or spammer accounts, which Musk objected to: he felt that figure should be a lot higher. He had earlier proclaimed that ridding Twitter of spam bots was a priority for him, post-takeover.

    Continue reading
  • Pentagon opens up about its database of 400 smudges that may or may not be UFOs
    'We're open to all hypotheses, we're open to any conclusions' says official

    A US House of Representatives subcommittee on Tuesday heard from Pentagon officials on reports of and investigations into unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) – a category that encompasses unidentified flying objects (UFO) and saves room for optical illusions, lens flare, smudges in photos, and other possibilities like meteorological events.

    The US military has researched UFOs in the past through initiatives like Project Blue Book (1947-1969), and the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) (2007-2012).

    Following a New York Times report in 2017 about the shutdown of the classified $22m AATIP program, public pressure and Congressional interest led the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last June to release a preliminary report on UAP [PDF] dating back to 2004.

    Continue reading
  • AMD claims its GPUs beat Nvidia on performance per dollar
    * Terms, conditions, hardware specs and software may vary – a lot

    As a slowdown in PC sales brings down prices for graphics cards, AMD is hoping to win over the market's remaining buyers with a bold, new claim that its latest Radeon cards provide better performance for the dollar than Nvidia's most recent GeForce cards.

    In an image tweeted Monday by AMD's top gaming executive, the chip designer claims its lineup of Radeon RX 6000 cards provide better performance per dollar than competing ones from Nvidia, with all but two of the ten cards listed offering advantages in the double-digit percentages. AMD also claims to provide better performance for the power required by each card in all but two of the cards.

    Continue reading
  • Google opens the pod doors on Bay View campus
    A futuristic design won't make people want to come back – just ask Apple

    After nearly a decade of planning and five years of construction, Google is cutting the ribbon on its Bay View campus, the first that Google itself designed.

    The Bay View campus in Mountain View – slated to open this week – consists of two office buildings (one of which, Charleston East, is still under construction), 20 acres of open space, a 1,000-person event center and 240 short-term accommodations for Google employees. The search giant said the buildings at Bay View total 1.1 million square feet. For reference, that's less than half the size of Apple's spaceship. 

    The roofs on the two main buildings, which look like pavilions roofed in sails, were designed that way for a purpose: They're a network of 90,000 scale-like solar panels nicknamed "dragonscales" for their layout and shimmer. By scaling the tiles, Google said the design minimises damage from wind, rain and snow, and the sloped pavilion-like roof improves solar capture by adding additional curves in the roof. 

    Continue reading
  • Pentester pops open Tesla Model 3 using low-cost Bluetooth module
    Anything that uses proximity-based BLE is vulnerable, claim researchers

    Tesla Model 3 and Y owners, beware: the passive entry feature on your vehicle could potentially be hoodwinked by a relay attack, leading to the theft of the flash motor.

    Discovered and demonstrated by researchers at NCC Group, the technique involves relaying the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals from a smartphone that has been paired with a Tesla back to the vehicle. Far from simply unlocking the door, this hack lets a miscreant start the car and drive away, too.

    Essentially, what happens is this: the paired smartphone should be physically close by the Tesla to unlock it. NCC's technique involves one gadget near the paired phone, and another gadget near the car. The phone-side gadget relays signals from the phone to the car-side gadget, which forwards them to the vehicle to unlock and start it. This shouldn't normally happen because the phone and car are so far apart. The car has a defense mechanism – based on measuring transmission latency to detect that a paired device is too far away – that ideally prevents relayed signals from working, though this can be defeated by simply cutting the latency of the relay process.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022