Using AI and Film to Track Tear Gas Use Against Civilians

Filmmaker Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour centers on the pale, calm face of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden holed up in a plain Hong Kong hotel room. Her latest star is even more impassive—an aluminum tear gas grenade—but it's seen amid surreal pulsating color. The 10-minute short, Triple Chaser, is named for that tear gas canister, a branded product of Florida’s Safariland Group that human rights groups say has been used by US border agents against migrants in Tijuana and by Israeli forces in Palestine. The film, a collaboration with the nonprofit Forensic Architecture, documents how that organization is devel­oping machine-learning software that could help uncover where Triple Chaser canisters are being launched or thrown. It also accuses prominent …

Deepfakes Are Getting Better, But They’re Still Easy to Spot

Last week, Mona Lisa smiled. A big, wide smile, followed by what appeared to be a laugh and the silent mouthing of words that could only be an answer to the mystery that had beguiled her viewers for centuries. A great many people were unnerved. Mona’s “living portrait,” along with likenesses of Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dali, and others, demonstrated the latest technology in deepfakes—seemingly realistic media generated using machine learning. Developed by researchers at Samsung’s AI lab in Moscow, the portraits display a new method to create credible videos from a single image. With just a few photographs of real faces, the results improve dramatically, producing what the authors describe as “photorealistic talking heads.” The researchers (creepily) call the result …