Google has announced it’s testing a digital watermark system, developed by its AI outfit DeepMind, which aims to identify AI-generated images and embed changes to individual pixels: these changes are invisible to the human eye, but computers can detect and flag them.

It’s called SynthID, which does sound rather Blade Runner-like, and it emerges at a time when the ethical questions around image manipulation are coming to the fore. It’s one thing when we’re talking about art and photography competitions, but AI-generated imagery’s capacity for political and social disinformation is enormous, emergent, and feels barely understood. The Pope in a puffer jacket is our canary in the coal mine.

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