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Microsoft declares war on deepfakes as US election looms

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Microsoft is targeting the deepfaked content that is used to manipulate public beliefs and opinions, the company said in a statement today. This content is created using artificial intelligence technologies that are increasingly accessible to the average person, ones that are capable of generating content that is realistic and hard to detect using the naked eye.

Microsoft has previously launched its Defending Democracy program, which is designed to counter disinformation that is spread across social media to influence the outcome of elections. One particularly troublesome form of disinformation is called ‘deepfakes,’ and it can include everything from a still image generated or modified by AI all the way to videos that seemingly show a politician or other individuals saying or doing things that didn’t really happen.

Though a long-term solution to this problem will be difficult due to the nature of artificial intelligence, Microsoft notes that at this point in time, it is focusing on the next couple of months in an effort to help protect the outcome of the US presidential election. That’s where the newly announced Microsoft Video Authenticator detection tool comes in.

As its name suggests, the Video Authenticator can analyze media — both images and video — and produce a ‘confidence score’ that shows the odds of whether the media had been manipulated. Users are presented with a real-time percentage chance for every frame of the content, according to Microsoft, which says that its technology works by looking for subtle elements like greyscale, fading, and blending boundaries.

The tool is able to detect elements that a human viewer may not be able to see with the naked eye, making it a useful technology against election interference. Microsoft says it trained the tool using the Face Forensic++ public dataset and then tested it using the DeepFake Detection Challenge Dataset.

As for the long-term reality of such technologies, Microsoft explains:

We expect that methods for generating synthetic media will continue to grow in sophistication. As all AI detection methods have rates of failure, we have to understand and be ready to respond to deepfakes that slip through detection methods. Thus, in the longer term, we must seek stronger methods for maintaining and certifying the authenticity of news articles and other media. There are few tools today to help assure readers that the media they’re seeing online came from a trusted source and that it wasn’t altered.

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Realme’s Next Premium Tablet Looks To Have An Unusual Design

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Even though we still have six days before the Realme Pad X launches in China, some of the specs of the Realme Pad X have already been confirmed by Realme’s CMO Xu Qi Chase, GSMArena claims. We know that this mid-range tablet will get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 chipset. This also means that the Realme Pad X will become the first Realme tablet to feature 5G connectivity. While the CMO did not reveal the rest of the specs, there’s been rumors about the likelihood of the Realme Pad fetting a QHD+ display that could also support a 120 Hz refresh rate.

From the images, it is also evident that the Realme Pad X gets a single rear-facing camera that is situated on an unusually large camera bump. There is a smaller circle below the rear camera with a prominent “AI” logo. The tablet also skips an LED flash for low-light situations.

Designwise, the Realme Pad looks like a contemporary tablet with small bezels and flat sides. One of the invites also showcases the Realme Pad X being used with a stylus. It remains to be seen if this accessory will be part of the retail package or an optional extra. With the launch date for this product a week away, there is a good chance that we could have additional details about the Realme Pad X before the official launch.

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Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 Revealed As The Heart Of Your Next Android Flagship Phone

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Qualcomm’s latest flagship processor continues to be based on a 4nm manufacturing process — albeit this time from TSMC. This change has allowed Qualcomm to increase the GPU and CPU clock speeds by up to 7%. The result is that the Prime Cortex X2 is now clocked at 3.2 GHz (as opposed to 3 GHz on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1). Similarly, the 3x Cortex A710 core now clocks at 2.8 GHz (compared to 2.5 GHz earlier).

Then we have the 4x Cortex A-510 efficiency cores that also see a jump from 1.8 GHz to 2 GHz. While Qualcomm is yet to reveal the clock speeds for the Adreno GPU on the Snapdragon 8+ Gen1, they already claim a 10% higher clock speed in the promotional materials.

The rest of the hardware on the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is similar to that of its predecessor — and this includes the X65 integrated modem as well. The new chip continues to support 3200 MHz LPDDR5 RAM, and the ISP used is the same, with support for 200 MP resolution, 8K video capture, and 64 MP burst capture. In terms of encoding, the chip retains support for Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, and HLG. A glaring omission, this time around too, is the lack of support for the AV1 codec.

In simpler terms, apart from the faster performance on account of the supposedly better manufacturing process, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 does not add anything over its predecessor in terms of additional features.

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Why Black Holes Slow Down Time As You Get Closer To One

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To understand why time slows down as an object gets closer to a black hole, it is necessary to understand what time dilation is. Live Science explains that Einstein — obsessed with space and time — was the first to realize that time was relative. After more than a decade of work, Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1915, shocking the Newtonian establishment and revolutionizing science. Einstein argued that while the laws of physics are constant throughout the universe (via The Conversation), speed or motion, space, and time are not constant but relative. Relative to what? To the point of observation or observer.

Einstein often spoke about trains and how people on and off moving trains would perceive time and speed differently. He cited, for example, that a speeding train would move much faster for a person standing on the side of the track than for a person chasing the train on another train running parallel to it. This has fueled a range of wild experiments with clocks and atomic clocks, and the answers proved Einstein was right: time is not constant and it can dilate.

But to be scientifically accurate, time does not change because of where an observer may be; it changes due to changes in gravity. Scientists have proven these changes in time by measuring atomic clocks on top of buildings and on ground levels, or on orbiting satellites and on Earth. So, if gravity can change time, what would happen to time in the presence of the massive gravitational forces of a black hole?

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