Scientists in the United States have developed tools to quantify the amount that an image has been digitally manipulated — but only of they have access to the original image.
While Wired talks about the breakthrough as a way to regulate image manipulation in advertising, at a time when some jurisdictions are cracking down on altered images, Nature says the system was developed as a way of combatting image fraud in scientific journals.
Nature also quotes developer Hany Farid, a computer scientist who studies digital forensics, wo points out that this system is no magic bullet:
“The requirement for both original and retouched images is an obvious flaw in his system, admits Farid, as researchers can’t always find their originals. But, in his opinion, it is impossible to get an accurate score for the extent of manipulation without the original image. Moreover, for both scientific journals and popular magazines, the very act of requiring original images to be provided could act as a deterrent against manipulation, he says.”
In advertising and the fashion industry, therefore, the system will only work if media or regulators institute a scale of manipulation and insist on access to unaltered images. Which won’t do much to deter dishonest marketers, who are not bound by the same honour and reputation system as scientists.
So, while this is pretty cool, we’ll probably have to keep discovering image fraud the old fashioned way.
Originally published in Work That Matters.