Jan 21, 2021

Oracle expands remit with reported new cloud, AI department

Oracle
AI
Cloud
reorganisation
William Smith
2 min
 Executive VP Don Johnson is to run the new department, which is known as Oracle Cloud Platform & AI Services
Executive VP Don Johnson is to run the new department, which is known as Oracle Cloud Platform & AI Services...

Enterprise software giant Oracle has inaugurated a new cloud and AI organisation.

According to Business Insider, Executive VP Don Johnson is to run the new department, which is known as Oracle Cloud Platform & AI Services.

Johnson was previously head of Oracle Cloud infrastructure, an organisation which will continue to exist alongside the new division, and was also a former challenger for the position of CEO, before current CEO Safra Catz attained the role of CEO in 2014, having served previously as both CFO and President.

Bolstering AI efforts

An internal email seen by Business Insider announced the change, saying: “It’s important to note: this is an extension of OCI, not a division of it. Together we’ll operate this as a unified OCI team, with a common all-hands, product roadmap, the usual meetings and processes, etc. One big tent and a common culture.”

The enterprise technology firm is particularly known for its database management systems, but in recent times Oracle’s AI offering has become more extensive. In 2019, for instance, the company added AI capabilities to its enterprise resource planning offering, with machine learning-augmented technology for expense reporting, financial controls and supply chain management, alongside a digital assistant for project management.

At the time, Rondy Ng, senior vice president, Oracle Applications Development, said: “Oracle continues to deliver on the finance innovation promise expected by our customers. Our pervasive AI strategy delivered via continuous product updates ensures rapid adoption with immediate business results. This allows finance and operations teams to stay ahead of the technology curve and retain a competitive advantage.”

The importance of cloud

The email announcing the new cloud and AI organisation went on to emphasise the ever-increasing importance of cloud to the company, saying: “Oracle is now fundamentally a cloud company, with a clear and simple vision: a marriage of the best cloud infrastructure, and leading data platform, together with the most pervasive cloud applications.”

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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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