Hany Farid, a digital forensic specialist of Dartmouth University, has developed a jpeg-analysing tool to identify even the subtlest alterations to digital images.
No human eye in front of a good fake is able to notice there is something wrong.
In fact, people often believe wrongly that good authentic images are fabrications.
But mathematics, physics and computer science, are powerful tools that can go further the naked eye and tell us whether shadows, perspective, texture and lighting are correct or not.
Acoording to Farid: “We know how to write down equations that describe jpeg compression, and so on and so forth. So with all this we can actually determine whether these things we see are physically correct or incorrect. Now, the issue with these tools, of course, is that they are not at the stage yet where you just push a button and get an answer. It’s not like CSI on TV; it’s actually a fair amount of work.”
The new software developed by Farid will be very useful for the news agencies that get photographs from citizen journalists and want to make sure there are not alterations of any kind. The specialist is in the early stages of creating a company to make the software commercially viable by year’s end.
For those who want to know more about this cutting-edge topic, on the 5th April will take place an MIT symposium, Ethics and Forensics in the Age of Photoshop Photojournalism, with Farid and Santiago Lyon, director of photography for the Associated Press.