Security News > 2021 > April > AI can alter geospatial data to create deepfake geography

AI can alter geospatial data to create deepfake geography
2021-04-30 03:30

In 2019, the director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the organization charged with supplying maps and analyzing satellite images for the U.S. Department of Defense, implied that AI-manipulated satellite images can be a severe national security threat.

To study how satellite images can be faked, Zhao and his team turned to an AI framework that has been used in manipulating other types of digital files.

When applied to the field of mapping, the algorithm essentially learns the characteristics of satellite images from an urban area, then generates a deepfake image by feeding the characteristics of the learned satellite image characteristics onto a different base map - similar to how popular image filters can map the features of a human face onto a cat.

Next, the researchers combined maps and satellite images from three cities - Tacoma, Seattle and Beijing - to compare features and create new images of one city, drawn from the characteristics of the other two.

Rather, the authors hope to learn how to detect fake images so that geographers can begin to develop the data literacy tools, similar to today's fact-checking services, for public benefit.

"As technology continues to evolve, this study aims to encourage more holistic understanding of geographic data and information, so that we can demystify the question of absolute reliability of satellite images or other geospatial data," Zhao said.

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