DARPA Working on Tool to Identify “Deepfake” Videos

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), one of the federal government’s most secretive research arms, tasked with keeping the United States on top of bleeding-edge technology developments, is reportedly hard-at-work attempting to develop a reliable means of identifying “deepfake” videos.

Perhaps the most widespread example of such a video was posted earlier this year by Buzzfeed. The video appears to show former President Barack Obama saying unlikely statements, before revealing the voice is actually being provided by comedian and director Jordan Peele and that the video was created by using algorithms to essentially control and animate a convincing video likeness of the president.


The technology’s rapid rise and maturation has been a source of concern for officials concerned that it might be used to rapidly spread fake news or propaganda that appears especially convincing.

According to FedScoop, DARPA has “researchers out there looking at the other side of the equation too — trying to figure out how to use AI to spot these inauthentic images more quickly and effectively than a human can.”

Specifically, DARPA’s Media Forensics team “is dedicated to building a tool that can spot deepfakes” in order “to level the digital imagery playing field, which currently favors the manipulator, by developing technologies for the automated assessment of the integrity of an image or video and integrating these in an end-to-end media forensics platform.”

The program started back in 2016 and has received funding through 2020, after which the Media Forensics team “homes to work with Silicon Valley tech companies to integrate the tool directly on their platforms.”

As with many technologies, however, the challenge grows increasingly difficult. “Tells” in early iterations of the fake videos are likely to decrease as the still-immature technology develops, so any countermeasure will need to rely on a more sophisticated approach, lest it quickly be outpaced by software developers working to make the fake videos appear increasingly more realistic.

Posted in The Takedown

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