Forging Ahead

Via Boing Boing, computer scientists are developing software to spot fake photos:

Hany Farid, a computer scientist at Dartmouth College … has created mathematical tools to determine whether a digital photograph was altered after being taken. His methods work so well that the Associated Press now asks him to scrutinize any photo that seems fishy.

“We’ve developed a bag of tricks,” Farid says. “Every time somebody tampers with a photograph, we try to understand what they did and how to detect it.”

[One] way to doctor an image is to piece together two separate photographs. For example, during the 2004 presidential campaign, an image surfaced on the Web showing John Kerry speaking with Jane Fonda at an anti-war demonstration in the 1960s, complete with an Associated Press insignia. Some veterans of the Vietnam War reacted with rage at seeing the presidential candidate sharing a stage with the controversial actress and anti-war activist. But the picture, it turned out, was a fake.

Forged photo: John Kerry and Jane Fonda

With computer software exposing faked photos, how will dishonest politicians stand a chance in future elections?

“Even after it was determined that it was a fake, people were still talking about Kerry at a war rally,” says Farid. “The power of the images stays with us.”

Oh. Guess the important thing is to get the image out there, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s real or fake. You can hear the Swift Boat crowd breathing a sigh of relief.