Irish teenager wins national science award for ‘deepfake’ video detector

A teenage student in Ireland has won a national science competition for developing technology that can more easily detect “deepfake” videos online.

Greg Tarr, from County Cork, was declared the winner of the 2021 BT Young Scientist & Technologist of the Year award last week for his project, “Towards Deepfake Detection”.

The picture or audio of deepfake videos is altered by artificial intelligence (AI) to make it appear as though someone has said or done something they have not.

The viral spread of deepfake videos has caused international concern, in an age of digital news consumption, and social media companies have come under renewed scrutiny on how to tackle the spread of this misinformation.

An altered video, claiming to show US President-elect Joe Biden falling asleep during a television interview, was widely shared before November’s election.

Speaking to Euronews, Tarr said he had developed advanced AI to help detect when a video has been altered.

“I’ve been working on AI for maybe four years and it’s being trained to look at vast amounts of data,” said Tarr, “it’s a concept that is currently being done, but mine is ten times faster.”

“It’s amazing how few people understand how prevalent deepfakes are in current media,” he added

The 17-year-old student will soon present his work at the European Union’s Contest for Young Scientists.

“I look forward to representing my country in September with the same project or maybe an improved version, and I’m also looking forward to commercialising or ‘productising’ this development.”

Watch more of the interview with Seana Davis in the player above.

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