In an era where digital misinformation poses significant threats to the integrity of electoral processes, a new blockchain-based verification tool emerges as a beacon of hope. Developed by Taiwan-based Numbers Protocol, this AI-powered technology is designed to authenticate digital images and videos, thus helping newsrooms and the public discern fact from fiction in online content.
A technological shield against misinformation
The rise of generative AI has accelerated the production of deep fakes, sophisticated digital alterations creating fake events, which have been used in elections in countries like Slovakia, Taiwan, and Bangladesh. With the inability of governments to regulate this synthetic media effectively, journalists and tech companies have stepped in to fill the gap.
Numbers Protocol’s solution to this problem is a tool that embeds metadata into photos, recording the origin, date, and authorship details. This metadata is anchored in blockchain technology, ensuring that the entire history of the photo, including any alterations, is transparent and tamper-proof. The tool is especially crucial as over four billion people globally prepare to participate in various elections this year, where the impact of deep fakes could be significant.
How the verification tool works
The tool works by allowing photojournalists to upload their images and videos via a desktop application. These files are then stored on decentralized storage and registered on the blockchain. This process guarantees the integrity and ownership of the content. For non-professional users, a special app is available that automatically embeds provenance information into pictures, aiding media organizations in quick verification of user-generated content.
To enhance ease and speed of verification, the tool includes an AI-powered “Verify” engine. Users can upload photos to this engine, similar to a Google reverse image search, which then uses blockchain technology to confirm the photo’s provenance. This feature is crucial for rapidly debunking harmful disinformation that goes viral.
The global impact and potential
The use of this technology in the run-up to the Taiwanese election, where around 1,000 photos were collected for verification, demonstrates its potential in larger-scale elections. Tammy Yang, the founder of Numbers Protocol, acknowledges the global challenge of information overwhelm and the tendency of people to be protective of their belief systems. This tool, by establishing the origin of an image or video, provides a starting point in the battle against deep fakes.
While the tool cannot single-handedly solve the issue of deep fake content, its ability to expedite the debunking process is a significant step forward. Time is a critical factor in combating viral disinformation, and this technology could play a pivotal role in preserving the integrity of future elections.