Safeguarding Elections: Blockchain-Based Technology Combats Deep Fake Menace
As the global populace gears up for an unprecedented year of elections involving over four billion voters, concerns about the misuse of generative AI for disseminating online misinformation have reached new heights. The specter of deep fakes, digitally altered media designed to fabricate events, has loomed ominously, evidenced by their deployment in elections in Slovakia, Taiwan, and Bangladesh.
Grassroots Initiatives Address Regulatory Gaps
Recognizing the inadequacy of government regulations in addressing the deep fake challenge, journalists and technology companies have taken matters into their own hands. Taiwan-based Numbers Protocol has emerged as a proactive player, offering a solution to newsrooms grappling with the onslaught of manipulated imagery.
Numbers Protocol’s innovative tool focuses on embedding metadata into photos, providing crucial details about their origin, timestamp, and ideally, the author’s information. Employing blockchain technology as its foundation, the tool ensures that viewers can trace the complete history of a photo, including any alterations made to it.
Numbers Protocol collaborates with photographers affiliated with news organizations worldwide, allowing them to upload images with embedded metadata accessible to anyone through a public database. The process involves the use of a desktop tool by photojournalists to manage and upload professional camera shots, storing them on decentralized storage and registering them on the blockchain for content integrity and ownership verification.
Democratizing Access to Verification Tools
Extending its reach beyond professionals, Numbers Protocol provides a user-friendly app for non-professionals to capture images. The app automatically incorporates information about the image’s provenance, facilitating media organizations in swiftly validating user-generated content.
To streamline the verification process, Numbers Protocol integrates an “Verify” engine powered by AI. Similar to Google’s reverse image search, users can upload a photo to this engine, which then utilizes blockchain technology to verify its origin, enhancing the overall authenticity-checking experience.
Tammy Yang, founder of Numbers Protocol, acknowledges the universal challenge posed by information overload. She notes, “The biggest challenge is information overwhelm. People are very protective of their belief systems and wary of anything new because it could be fake.”
While Numbers Protocol’s tool does not single-handedly eradicate deep fake content, its ability to establish the origin of an image or video marks a significant step forward. The tool proves invaluable in expediting the debunking process, a critical factor given the urgency when harmful disinformation gains viral traction.
Drawing from its experience in the run-up to Taiwan’s January election, Numbers Protocol successfully collected and verified approximately 1,000 photos. This not only highlights the effectiveness of the technology but also underscores its potential applicability in larger-scale elections where the influence of deep fakes on voting outcomes is a looming concern.