ONE OF the coolest bits in Blade Runner is where Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is examining a photograph and uses voice control to get his computer to zoom… then enhance… the detail.
We've got the voice control bit already, but what about the enhancing photos bit? Google Brain, the company's AI team, may have the answer with a paper called 'Pixel Recursive Super Resolution'.
Right now, in reality, if you zoom in a photo, unless it's ridonkulously high resolution, it's just going to blur. But thanks to artificial intelligence, photos can be sharpened to a recognisable image with as little as 8x8 pixels to work with. Yes, stalkers, it's brown trousers time.
The method uses two different neural networks. First, the conditioning network will try and map the 64 block mess against high-resolution images in the database. It does this by shrinking suspected matches down to the same 8x8 to try and get a match.
Then the prior network, based on predictive neural work from PixelCNN uses its prior knowledge to deduce what the photo probably looks like, based on millions of existing images.
The result is a deduction. It's not a real image. And that means that it would be easy to fool. For example, introduce Adam Harvey's recent art-science hybrid Hyperface and it would be royally screwed.
Ethically speaking this means that a positive match shouldn't be admissable as evidence, for example, but it could be used to strengthen a case against you that already exists.
In real world testing, images of celebrity faces created with the technique were recognised by the human testers around one time in five. It's not enough to warrant an all-singing all-dancing breakthrough, but it's a significant step forward. The figure jumps to nearly 1 in 3 for environments such as rooms.
This technology will learn over time and is only going to get smarter, and whilst there isn't a lawyer in the land that will allow a simulation of a photo to convict you, there will come a point where it's pretty damning. µ
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