Technology

Protecting photos from AI, and air-conditioning’s dilemma


What’s happening? There’s currently nothing stopping someone taking the selfie you posted online last week and editing it using powerful generative AI systems. Even worse, it might be impossible to prove that the resulting image is fake. The good news is that a new tool, created by researchers at MIT, could prevent this. 

How does it work? The tool, called PhotoGuard, works like a protective shield by altering photos in tiny ways that are invisible to the human eye but prevent them from being manipulated. If someone tries to use an editing app based on a generative AI model to manipulate an image that has been “immunized” by PhotoGuard, the result will look unrealistic or warped. 

Why it matters: The need to find ways to detect and stop AI-powered manipulation has never been more urgent, because generative AI tools have made it quicker and easier than ever before. Read the full story.

—Melissa Heikkilä

Why air-conditioning is a climate antihero

Temperatures are rising around the globe, shattering extreme heat records on basically every continent. It’s making air-conditioning less of a “nice to have” and more of an absolute necessity in some parts of the world. 

But air-conditioning is becoming a monster when it comes to energy demand. We might have to add a whole US electrical grid’s worth of new energy generation just to power all the air conditioners that will come online in the next few decades. On the upside, plenty of people are working towards improving existing systems to make them more climate-friendly. Read the full story.