As if AI isn’t unnerving enough, now it’s gone and learned how to create photo-realistic faces off of just a few pixels – yikes. Sure, this isn’t reverse pixelation or anything because the AI is actually creating an entirely new face (eyes, mouth, nose and all), out of the pixels, but it’s certainly a step towards it. So, now you can’t hide from AI – great! 

A Move Into A Further Surveilled Future 

It’s no secret that we’re surveilled pretty heavily nowadays. There are CCTV cameras on every street corner, so it’s basically impossible to hide anything. Of course, technological advancements have had a huge role to play in increasing surveillance, and now AI is stepping in to help out further. 

The PULSE (Photo Upsampling via Latent Space Exploration) system can put together photos with a 64x greater resolution than its source networks. That’s 8x better than previous methods. 

Cynthia Rudin, a computer scientist at Duke University, said about PULSE, “Never have super-resolution images been created at this resolution before with this much detail.”

How Does PULSE Work? 

PULSE works backwards, generating full-resolution photos intended to look like the blurred source, only when pixelated. It’s able to convert a 16×16 pixel grid to a 1,024×1,024 image in a matter of seconds. 

The artificial intelligence system uses a generative adversarial network (GAN) to pit two neural networks against each other, both of which will be trained based off of the same group of photographs. Then, one will generate the faces while the other determines if the resulting images are realistic enough. 

This technique allowed researchers to produce images without faults, which appeared in the products of other methods used. 

Much of the project’s success is based on the fact that it looks for an image that it can downscale to the original, instead of trying to find one “true” photo to exactly match the source. 

GAN systems like this one are complicated. This PULSE system uses the blocks of a pixelated image as a source, meaning that multiple faces could come from the same source. This principle can effectively be applied to any object – like animals, fresh produce, and more. It’s strange to think about, particularly because this technology may very soon be turned against us. 

Photographers Blur Faces To Protect Protestors – Now What? 

In light of the Black Lives Matter protests occurring around the world, and particularly in the States, developers have rushed to build tools that will scrub the metadata from images, and blur protestors faces. 

There are already some neural networks that work at un-blurring images, but this PULSE technology functions differently and could be used as a tool to target protestors. The reality is that you can’t hide from AI, no matter how hard you try, and that may cause trouble going into the future. 

PULSE AI Tech Is A Step Forward, But It Remains Unnerving 

You can’t hide from AI – that’s becoming increasingly clear. PULSE is just one new advancement in the sector, but it poses a genuine threat to our right to privacy. Unblurring photographs isn’t just fun, particularly when it could be used to harm protestors. Maybe we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves  – but it is a reality that we’re all going to have to face at some point. 

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