Mar 9, 2021

Is AI the key to better EV batteries?

AI
battery
Paddy Smith
2 min
slac ai battery
The success of electric vehicles (EVs) is hobbled by their reliance on slow charging batteries. But could machine learning solve the problem...

What’s wrong with batteries?

Batteries are the poor cousin of technology. Charge them fast and it destroys the battery. Charge them slowly, no one wants them. They’re expensive to build and deplete in capacity over time. Worst of all, from mobile phones to electric vehicles, we’re totally reliant on them.

Why doesn’t someone make better batteries?

That’s the golden question, but the simple answer is that it’s not easy. Luckily, someone is working on it. A team of researchers from the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Toyota Research Institute (TRI). They’re trying to develop batteries with longer life for electric vehicles (EVs).

And they think machine learning is the answer to better batteries?

Sort of. They think machine learning is the key to understanding how to charge batteries faster without destroying them. Previous work the team has done has accelerated battery testing processes, but the new research, researchers say, could cut the time to market for new battery tech by two-thirds.

What does Stanford researcher Will Chueh have to say about it?

"In this case, we are teaching the machine how to learn the physics of a new type of failure mechanism that could help us design better and safer fast-charging batteries. Fast charging is incredibly stressful and damaging to batteries, and solving this problem is key to expanding the nation's fleet of electric vehicles as part of the overall strategy for fighting climate change."

What did they do?

The researchers used x-rays to study particles during fast charging, then scanned them at individual level before shunting the data through algorithms tuned with mathematical chemical and charging data. "Rather than having the computer directly figure out the model by simply feeding it data, as we did in the two previous studies, we taught the computer how to choose or learn the right equations, and thus the right physics," said Stanford postdoctoral researcher Stephen Dongmin Kang.

"We now have a picture – literally a movie – of how lithium moves around inside the battery, and it's very different than scientists and engineers thought it was. This uneven charging and discharging puts more stress on the electrodes and decreases their working lifetimes. Understanding this process on a fundamental level is an important step toward solving the fast charging problem."

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Jun 17, 2021

Facebook Develops AI to Crackdown on Deepfakes

Facebook
MSU
AI
Deepfakes
3 min
Social media giant, Facebook, has developed artificial intelligence that can supposedly identify and reverse-engineer deepfake images

In light of the large tidal wave of increasingly believable deepfake images and videos that have been hitting the feeds of every major social media and news outlet in recent years, global organisations have started to consider the risk factor behind them. While the majority of deepfakes are created purely for amusement, their increasing sophistication is leading to a very simple question: What happens when a deepfake is produced not for amusement, but for malicious intent on a grander scale? 

 

Yesterday, Facebook revealed that it was also concerned by that very question and that it had decided to take a stand against deepfakes. In partnership with Michigan State University, the social media giant presented “a research method of detecting and attributing deepfakes that relies on reverse engineering from a single AI-generated image to the generative model used to produce it.” 

 

The promise is that Facebook’s method will facilitate deepfake detection and tracing in real-world settings, where the deepfake image itself is often the only information detectors have to work with. 

Why Reverse Engineering? 

Right now, researchers identify deepfakes through two primary methods: detection, which distinguishes between real and deepfake images, and image attribution, which identifies whether the image was generated using one of the AI’s training models. But generative photo techniques have advanced in scale and sophistication over the past few years, and the old strategies are no longer sufficient. 

 

First, there are only so many images presented in AI training. If the deepfake was generated by an unknown, alternative model, even artificial intelligence won’t be able to spot it—at least, until now. Reverse engineering, common practice in machine learning (ML), can uncover unique patterns left by the generating model, regardless of whether it was included in the AI’s training set. This helps discover coordinated deepfake attacks or other instances in which multiple deepfakes come from the same source. 

 

How It Works 

Before we could use deep learning to generate images, criminals and other ill-intentioned actors had a limited amount of options. Cameras only had so many tools at their disposal, and most researchers could easily identify certain makes and models. But deep learning has ushered in an age of endless options, and as a result, it’s grown increasingly difficult to identify deepfakes.

 

To counteract this, Facebook ran deepfakes through a fingerprint estimation network (FEN) to estimate some of their details. Fingerprints are essentially patterns left on an image due to manufacturing imperfections, and they help identify where the image came from. By evaluating the fingerprint magnitude, repetition frequency, and symmetrical frequency, Facebook then applied those constraints to predict the model’s hyperparameters. 

 

What are hyperparameters? If you imagine a generative model as a car, hyperparameters are similar to the engine components: certain properties that distinguish your fancy automobile from others on the market. ‘Our reverse engineering technique is somewhat like recognising [the engine] components of a car based on how it sounds’, Facebook explained, ‘even if this is a new car we’ve never heard of before’. 

 

What Did They Find? 

‘On standard benchmarks, we get state-of-the-art results’, said Facebook research lead Tal Hassner. Facebook added that the fingerprint estimation network (FEN) method can be used for not only model parsing, but detection and image attribution. While this research is the first of its kind, making it difficult to assess the results, the future looks promising. 


Facebook’s AI will introduce model parsing for real-world applications, increasing our understanding of deepfake detection. As cybersecurity attacks proliferate, and generative AI falls into the hands of those who would do us harm, this method could help the ‘good guys’ stay one step ahead. As Hassner explained: ‘This is a cat-and-mouse game, and it continues to be a cat-and-mouse game’.

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