• Fake faces created by AI are considered more trustworthy than images of real people, a new study has found.
  • Researchers behind the study are calling for safeguards to prevent deep fakes.
  • AI is presenting “new and complex ethical issues,” the World Economic Forum says.

Fake faces created by artificial intelligence (AI) are considered more trustworthy than images of real people, a new study has found.

The results highlight the need for safeguards to prevent deep fakes, which have already been used for revenge porn, fraud and propaganda, the researchers behind the report say.

16 different faces, male and female.
Real (R) and synthetic (S) faces were rated for trustworthiness with ‘statistically significant’ results.
Image: PNAS

Deep fake fears

The study - by Dr Sophie Nightingale from Lancaster University in the UK and Professor Hany Farid from the University of California, Berkeley, in the US - asked participants to identify a selection of 800 faces as real or fake, and to rate their trustworthiness.

After three separate experiments, the researchers found the AI-created synthetic faces were on average rated 7.7% more trustworthy than the average rating for real faces. This is “statistically significant”, they add. The three faces rated most trustworthy were fake, while the four faces rated most untrustworthy were real, according to the magazine New Scientist.

AI learns the faces we like

The fake faces were created using generative adversarial networks (GANs), AI programmes that learn to create realistic faces through a process of trial and error.

The study, AI-synthesized faces are indistinguishable from real faces and more trustworthy, is published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

It urges safeguards to be put into place, which could include incorporating “robust watermarks” into the image to protect the public from deep fakes.

Guidelines on creating and distributing synthesized images should also incorporate “ethical guidelines for researchers, publishers, and media distributors,” the researchers say.

8 different faces, male and female.
The four most (top row) and four least (bottom row) trustworthy faces, according to the study.
Image: PNAS

Ethical AI tools

Using AI responsibly is the “immediate challenge” facing the field of AI governance, the World Economic Forum says.

In its report, The AI Governance Journey: Development and Opportunities, the Forum says AI has been vital in progressing areas like innovation, environmental sustainability and the fight against COVID-19. But the technology is also “challenging us with new and complex ethical issues” and “racing ahead of our ability to govern it”.

The report looks at a range of practices, tools and systems for building and using AI.

These include labelling and certification schemes; external auditing of algorithms to reduce risk; regulating AI applications, and greater collaboration between industry, government, academia and civil society to develop AI governance frameworks.

AI, machine learning, technology

How is the World Economic Forum ensuring that artificial intelligence is developed to benefit all stakeholders?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is impacting all aspects of society — homes, businesses, schools and even public spaces. But as the technology rapidly advances, multistakeholder collaboration is required to optimize accountability, transparency, privacy and impartiality.

The World Economic Forum's Platform for Shaping the Future of Technology Governance: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is bringing together diverse perspectives to drive innovation and create trust.

  • One area of work that is well-positioned to take advantage of AI is Human Resources — including hiring, retaining talent, training, benefits and employee satisfaction. The Forum has created a toolkit Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence for Human Resources to promote positive and ethical human-centred use of AI for organizations, workers and society.
  • Children and young people today grow up in an increasingly digital age in which technology pervades every aspect of their lives. From robotic toys and social media to the classroom and home, AI is part of life. By developing AI standards for children, the Forum is working with a range of stakeholders to create actionable guidelines to educate, empower and protect children and youth in the age of AI.
  • The potential dangers of AI could also impact wider society. To mitigate the risks, the Forum is bringing together over 100 companies, governments, civil society organizations and academic institutions in the Global AI Action Alliance to accelerate the adoption of responsible AI in the global public interest.
  • AI is one of the most important technologies for business. To ensure C-suite executives understand its possibilities and risks, the Forum created the Empowering AI Leadership: AI C-Suite Toolkit, which provides practical tools to help them comprehend AI’s impact on their roles and make informed decisions on AI strategy, projects and implementations.
  • Shaping the way AI is integrated into procurement processes in the public sector will help define best practice which can be applied throughout the private sector. The Forum has created a set of recommendations designed to encourage wide adoption, which will evolve with insights from a range of trials.
  • The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Rwanda worked with the Ministry of Information, Communication Technology and Innovation to promote the adoption of new technologies in the country, driving innovation on data policy and AI – particularly in healthcare.

Contact us for more information on how to get involved.