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Every movie could star Nicolas Cage

Have you heard about deepfakes?  Deepfakes (a combination of the “deep learning” and “fakes”) are "realistic photo, audio, video, and other forgeries generated with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies." You may have seen the PSA Jordan Peele made with BuzzFeed using this technology which appears to be Barack Obama weighing in on a variety of topics and saying things he never said (but which Jordan Peele did say):

Jordan Peele / Obama video:

The technology to create these sorts of videos is becoming cheaper and more mainstream, giving us treats (nightmares?) like these where users have put Nicolas Cage into all sorts of movies and situations:

Nic Cage deepfakes mini compilation:

Don't get fooled by deepfakes

The Nic Cage deepfakes above are clearly done with fun in mind, but the technology can also be used for more nefarious purposes. If you see a video of someone doing something shocking or completely out of character, how can you tell if it's true or it's a deepfake?

This BuzzFeed article by Craig Silverman includes some basic tips you can follow to ensure you don’t get fooled easily by deepfakes (read the article for explanations of each item):

  1. Don't jump to conclusions
  2. Consider the source
  3. Check where else it is (and isn't) online
  4. Inspect the mouth
  5. Slow it down

Can you spot the deepfakes?

CNN's page about deepfakes includes a 4-question quiz: https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/01/business/pentagons-race-against-deepfakes/

The MIT Media Lab has an extensive quiz which will let you know after each response if you got it right, and after 10 responses will let you how you rank against other users:  https://detectfakes.media.mit.edu/ 

More than just deepfakes

Misleading videos include more than just AI-generated deepfakes. The Washington Post's "The Fact Checker's guide to manipulated video" spells out many of the ways video can be manipulated to be false or misleading. Good information to know!

Screenshot tips for Windows 10 Snip & Sketch

Awhile back, Andrew introduced some features of the Windows 10 Snip & Sketch tool. Working remotely these days, I've found many occasions to share screenshots with colleagues and staff at libraries. Here are a few more tricks I've discovered:

Windows key + Shift + S: In addition to finding Snip & Sketch in the Start menu, hitting Windows key + Shift + S activates it. Anytime I can save stress on my wrists by typing a key command instead of moving the mouse, I will use it!

Open file: Save a screenshot (or a series of screenshots), and later, use Open File to come back and add annotations to the original file.

Laptop trackpad writing: I've been hesitant to write on screenshots because my writing with a mouse is pretty awful. Using a laptop trackpad with a finger or stylus gives me a slightly less atrocious option to add arrows, highlighting, numbering, etc.

Screenshot pointing out the location of the Open File command

COVID-19 INFODEMIC - Tools for Myth Busters!

As a data specialist (and someone with family members at high risk for COVID-19), I have been following researchers and collecting a personal library of COVID-19 data visualizations, datasets, and scholarly articles. With so much information generated daily, it is hard to keep up and sift through sources to find credible information.

This week, I watched a UW Now Livestream featuring Professor Ajay Sethi on "Confronting Covid-19 Misinformation". In his talk, Professor Sethi shows how our scientific understanding of COVID-19 is improving with time.“The problem, however, is that running in parallel with this expansion of knowledge about COVID-19, is the spread of vast amounts of misinformation and disinformation (misinformation spread deliberately), called the COVID-19 INFODEMIC.” 

Professor Sethi also explores why it may be easy to believe COVID-19 misinformation and offers approaches to confront misinformation in our society. I was intrigued by his example of a fact checking organization, the Corona Virus Facts Alliance, fighting this INFODEMIC. On their website, they have a visualization showing categories of hoaxes with each fact check represented by a circle that you can hover over for details on the falsehood.


The term “COVID-19 INFODEMIC” is new to me, so I wanted to learn more. Here are additional resources I found:

Lastly, check out “Dear Pandemic” on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They are a diverse group of public health researchers providing the public with evidence-based answers about COVID-19. 


Your face as big data

Facial_recognitionI wrote this back in early March, just before the world went all topsy-turvy. I'm curious whether anyone feels differently now about facial recognition use by governments than they might have before the pandemic and recent protests.

How would you feel if...

Welcome to the wonderful world of facial recognition. Hello convenience... goodbye privacy!

The New York Times ran an article back in March about a company in the facial recognition software business, and after reading more about this technology I am both fascinated and terrified by the possibilities for its use! This is one of those topics that can't be easily summarized in a short TechBits post but absolutely should be something on public libraries' (and private citizens') radar. If you have a couple of minutes, this Center for the Future of Libraries webpage about facial recognition is a nice overview.  

According to a Pew Research Center study, a majority of Americans (56%) trust law enforcement agencies to use facial recognition technologies responsibly and (59%) think it is acceptable for them to use these tools to assess security threats in public spaces. However, Americans have much less confidence in technology companies or advertisers to use the technology responsibly. Currently, laws governing how this new technology is used are all over the map. A couple of the big concerns with facial recognition are privacy (can a user "opt out"?) and accuracy (facial recognition has been less accurate for anyone not male or white).

Some additional library-focused articles about facial recognition:

What questions do you have about facial recognition software and libraries?
The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee’s has formed a Facial Recognition Working Group and is compiling a Q&A on the use of facial recognition software in libraries. It should be interesting to read more about this topic when their best practices and guidelines are published.


* shaming you for, say, wearing your pajamas outside ----  or, on the more sinister side, blocking your ability to travel or putting you in a reeducation camp.