In the Age of A.I., Is Seeing Still Believing?
In 2011, Hany Farid, a photo-forensics expert, received an e-mail from a bereaved father. Three years earlier, the man’s son had found himself on the side of the road with a car that wouldn’t start. When some strangers offered him a lift, he accepted. A few minutes later, for unknown reasons, they shot him. A surveillance camera had captured him as he walked toward their car, but the video was of such low quality that key details, such as faces, were impossible to make out. The other car’s license plate was visible only as an indecipherable jumble of pixels. Farid had pioneered the forensic analysis of digital photographs in the late nineteen-nineties, and gained a reputation as a miracle worker. A few months later, though, Farid had a thought. Such an undertaking seemed impractical, and for a while it was. In a media environment saturated with fake news, such technology has disturbing implications. Not all synthetic media is dystopian. “In the past, anybody could buy Photoshop.
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