Purdue Indy faculty wins newfound NSF award to combat influence of ‘deepfake’ AI tech

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently granted Purdue University in Indianapolis assistant professor Shu Hu a “Pilot” award in support of his lab’s research into deepfake detection.

The term “deepfake” refers to  video content that has been digitally manipulated to make it appear as though someone is present, or even speaking in a video, when their appearance has in fact been fabricated using a combination of graphical technology and artificial intelligence.

The term became more widely known in 2017 after researchers at the University of Washington intentionally created and distributed deepfake footage that appeared to depict then-president Barack Obama to prove how far the technology had come.

Hu, a faculty member at the newly-founded  School of Engineering and Technology in Indianapolis, was given his Pilot award as part of NSF’s National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource program (NAIRR). NSF states that NAIRR is “a result of President Joe Biden's landmark Executive Order on the Safe, Secure and Trustworthy Development and Use of AI.”

Jeffrey Mervis at Science Magazine writes that Hu’s NAIRR Pilot award will grant him two different opportunities. First, as the NSF is cooperating with the Department of Energy on this endeavor, Hu will be given access to thousands of computing hours in DoE-sponsored supercomputer facilities such as the Texas Advanced Computing Center’s Lonestar machine.

The second opportunity is for Hu to have the chance to train two graduate students in deepfake detection. Per Science Magazine: “Two of [Hu’s] graduate students are hoping to learn how to stay one step ahead of the forgers by searching for common features in the growing universe of DeepFakes. At the same time, two undergraduates will gain access to DOE-funded course materials on AI.”

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