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Deep Fake technology

Research

Apr 26th, 2021
Is Seeing Really Believing?

Deep Fake Technologies Create New Reality

  • Research
  • Industrial Engineering

Technology has proven time and again to have had such a beneficial effect on our world, whether that be creating food sources, clean water, or even curing the coronavirus. However, the Deep Fake technology, like many other innovative tools, if in the wrong hands, could pose a tremendous threat to the world.

 

Deep Fake is an Artificial Intelligence technology that can place one`s face in the video of another person (easy replica in videos, for example). Not only does it look real, it’s also harder to detect fraud, which can easily be used for identity, financial or social fraudulence.

 

Prof. Irad Ben-Gal from the Department of Industrial Engineering, the head of The Laboratory for AI, Machine Learning, Business & Data Analytics (LAMBDA) was recently interviewed by Walla News on the risks of Deep Fake technologies during the elections. Prof. Ben-Gal explains that application of Deep Fake technologies can be legitimate and have a positive effect if properly used. Among other things, he discussed deep network models and the options nowadays to create accurate simulations of reality in applications such as smart cities and epidemiological models of infection.

 

The study

Conducted in collaboration with Dr. Erez Shmueli, from the Department of Industrial Engineering, this study showed the most effective ways of disseminating information was by using regular people in your social network who respond and discuss new opinions that you have just been exposed to. Opposite to celebrities, when regular users retell and circulate the new information, it creates local effect that makes the information more apparent on the web. This was the tactic that Cambridge Analytica used to target Facebook users during the first campaign of Trump.

This study was done as a follow up to the research of Dr. Alon Sela, who holds PhD from the Industrial Engineering Department at Tel Aviv University in collaboration with Prof. Shlomo Havlin and Dr. Louis Shechtman. They examined models of spreading opinions in modern society, and in their research, they compared two spreading mechanisms: “Word-of-Mouth” (WOM) and online search engines (WEB). In their study, the researchers applied modelling and real experimental results. This way, they compared opinions that people adopt through their friends and opinions they embrace when using a search engine based on the PageRank (and alike) algorithm.

The research findings showed that the opinions adopted through the use of WEB scheme is more homogenous. People using the search engines follow just a few dominant views without having a variety of different opinions, a phenomenon known as “the richer gets it all”. In contrast, WOM scheme produces more diverse opinions and their distribution.

 

Combining the physical world with the digital world

​The “Digital Living 2030” project, spear-headed by Ben Gal and Professor Bambos at Stanford University, is concerned with connecting the digital world and the physical worlds as trends are analyzed about our future lives 10-15 years from now. Ben Gal explains that an avatar (digital character) can be created to represent a person in the digital space for a positive purpose. “Imagine an expert radiologist whose digital character has learned from all his past data about medical imaging so that others can work using his digital character when his physical character is no longer present, for example, when he sleeps at night.”

The research helps better understand the situation with the Deep Fake technology. Since the technology is available now for commercial use, it can be “used and abused” by anyone exposed to it. Fake videos can be produced in big amounts by ordinary people that are connected on social network and can affect each other`s opinion.

In the last days of an election campaign, this kind of activity can dramatically change the results, and “even if the fraud is detected at the end of the day, it will be too late.” – says Prof. Ben-Gal. “From the other side, having a diversity of opinions, new and not ordinary, is essential and enriching.  If the application of technology is legitimate and reliable, it can enrich the body of human knowledge with diverse opinions.”

 

Loving the problem is the greatest way to invent

THE ROBOT EXPERIMENT

Research

Mar 17th, 2021
A world first: A robot able to “hear” through the ear of a locust

Tel Aviv University researchers connect a real locust ear to a robot

  • Research
  • Mechanical Engineering

A technological and biological development that is unprecedented in Israel and the world has been achieved at Tel Aviv University. For the first time, the ear of a dead locust has been connected to a robot that receives the ear’s electrical signals and responds accordingly. The result is extraordinary: When the researchers clap once, the locust's ear hears the sound and the robot moves forward; when the researchers clap twice, the robot moves backwards.

 

The interdisciplinary study was led by Idan Fishel, a joint master student under the joint supervision of Dr. Ben M. Maoz of the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, Prof. Yossi Yovel and Prof. Amir Ayali, experts from the School of Zoology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience together with –, Dr. Anton Sheinin, Idan, Yoni Amit, and Neta Shavil. The results of the study were published in the prestigious journal Sensors.

 

The researchers explain that at the beginning of the study, they sought to examine how the advantages of biological systems could be integrated into technological systems, and how the senses of dead locust could be used as sensors for a robot. “We chose the sense of hearing, because it can be easily compared to existing technologies, in contrast to the sense of smell, for example, where the challenge is much greater,” says Dr. Maoz. “Our task was to replace the robot's electronic microphone with a dead insect's ear, use the ear’s ability to detect the electrical signals from the environment, in this case vibrations in the air, and, using a special chip, convert the insect input to that of the robot.”

 

To carry out this unique and unconventional task, the interdisciplinary team (Maoz, Yovel and Ayali) faced number of challenged. In the first stage the researchers built a robot capable of responding to signals it receives from the environment. Then, in a multidisciplinary collaboration, the researchers were able to isolate and characterize the dead locust ear and keep it alive, that is, functional, long enough to successfully connect it to the robot. In the final stage, the researchers succeeded in finding a way to pick up the signals received by the locust’s ear in a way that could be used by the robot. At the end of the process, the robot was able to “hear” the sounds and respond accordingly.

 

“Prof. Ayali’s laboratory has extensive experience working with locusts, and they have developed the skills to isolate and characterize the ear,” explains Dr. Maoz. “Prof. Yovel's laboratory built the robot and developed code that enables the robot to respond to electrical auditory signals. And my laboratory has developed a special device - Ear-on-a-Chip - that allows the ear to be kept alive throughout the experiment by supplying oxygen and food to the organ, while allowing the electrical signals to be taken out of the locust’s ear and amplified and transmitted to the robot.

 

“In general, biological systems have a huge advantage over technological systems - both in terms of sensitivity and in terms of energy consumption. This initiative of Tel Aviv University researchers opens the door to sensory integrations between robots and insects - and may make much more cumbersome and expensive developments in the field of robotics redundant.

 

“It should be understood that biological systems expend negligible energy compared to electronic systems. They are miniature, and therefore also extremely economical and efficient. For the sake of comparison, a laptop consumes about 100 watts per hour, while the human brain consumes about 20 watts a day. Nature is much more advanced than we are, so we should use it. The principle we have demonstrated can be used and applied to other senses, such as smell, sight and touch. For example, some animals have amazing abilities to detect explosives or drugs; the creation of a robot with a biological nose could help us preserve human life and identify criminals in a way that is not possible today. Some animals know how to detect diseases. Others can sense earthquakes. The sky is the limit.”

Pictured: Placing drops of virus suspension on sterile surfaces prior to ozone exposure

Research

Mar 14th, 2021
TAU Professors are taking part in the global fight against the pandemic

The research provided by Dr. Ines Zucker of  the Faculty of Engineering and The Porter School of Environmental Sciences shows that gaseous ozone can effectively disinfect Covid-19.

  • Research
  • Mechanical Engineering

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected public health around the world leading to a global panic.  It has been more than a year since countries worldwide are enforcing social distancing and isolation, cancelling flights, and asking millions of their countries’ inhabitants to get tested to prevent further spreading of the virus.

 

Evidences that the Covid-19 is transmitted through aerosols and surfaces made scientists all over the world search for effective methods of disinfection. Dr. Ines Zucker from the School of Mechanical Engineering and the Porter School of Environmental Science, together with Dr. Yinon Yecheskel, the manager of the Zucker Lab, is taking part in the global fight against the pandemic. In recent days, Dr. Zucker and Dr. Yecheskel are working on practical methods to enable the use of ozone gas as a safe and potent disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2 virus.

 

Ozone is mostly known as a protective layer in the Earth`s stratosphere that absorbs dangerous ultraviolet wavelengths and protect us from harmful radiation. At ground level, ozone is a toxic gas that can cause health issues and overall, is considered as an air pollutant. However, ozone is also known as a strong oxidant that is used in water and wastewater treatment. Dr. Ines Zucker and her team try to adapt the method whereby they use ozone to break down water contaminants and apply it to disinfect Coronavirus from infected surfaces and aerosols.

 

“We generate ozone through electrical discharge of oxygen gas, and typically use the mixed stream to oxidize chemicals in water. Now, we proved the potential use of ozone-gas disinfection to combat the COVID-19 outbreak”- says Dr. Zucker. Through process engineering, ozone can be safely used for air disinfection, while minimizing exposure to ozone residues in treated air. The advantage of ozone over other common disinfectants (such as alcohol) is its ability to disinfect hidden objects and indoor air, and not just exposed surfaces.

 

Moreover, the researchers found a safe, non-contagious model of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which they are using to accelerate their research on ozone disinfection.  

 

“We paved the way towards a promising ozone-based disinfection method, and now we are continuing our research and examining optimal conditions to minimize infectivity as well as ozone residues in the treated area”– concludes Dr. Zucker. 

Photo: on the right, Dr. Joel Alter, Dr. Moshe Dessau, Dr. Yinon Yehezkel and Dr. Ines Zucker 

 

The research was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Moshe Dessau from the Faculty of Medicine at Bar Ilan University, and Dr. Yaal Lester from Azrieli College of Engineering in Jerusalem. The preliminary findings of the study were published in the journal Environmental Chemistry Letters.

 

Loving the problem is the greatest way to invent

Nadav Kahanovich

Research

Feb 24th, 2021
Can robots understand what we want?

Dr. Avishai Sintov has created a wearable device that can detect the movements of the forearm muscles and communicate the intentions of human activities which a robot will sense and reciprocate.  

  • Research
  • Mechanical Engineering

Human- robot collaboration requires intuitive understanding of human movements. Since our early childhood development, we learn that the different kinds of movements we perform in a certain way, will generate a certain response, more often than not, without any verbal communication. For example, if you offer a cup of coffee to your friend, they will intuitively reach their hand out to take the cup. In fact, by just looking at the cup in your hands, your friend will understand the intention and predict the trajectory of your movements, acting in response.

 

Publication

The research findings of Dr. Avishai Sintov and graduate student, Nadav Kahanovich, will be published in the The IEEE Robotics & Automation Letters.  

 

Dr. Avishai Sintov is the Head of ROB-TAU lab lab at the Mechanical Engineering at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Sintov and his team of researchers study the prediction of human intentions in non-verbal communication, and aim to “teach” this to robots..

 

In their article, the researchers showed that a simple and inexpensive wearable device can detect different motions of human forearm muscles. The device contains 15 power sensors that stick to the skin and detect muscles contractions when a person takes various objects and moves a hand. Using their algorithms, the robot receives information about the objects in real time which imply about the intention of the person. The algorithms include a neural network that is trained to read and interpret the information from the device and accurately predict the intention of the interaction in real time.

 

The ability to predict the intentions of human activities helps the robot plan the movement for efficient and quick assistance. This approach will allow robots to work intuitively without verbal communication and cameras.  

Photo: The robot identifies the objects and assists the person

 

Future Vision

In the future, this technology can assist people with disabilities, for example a wheelchair-mounted robot arm aid to assist with daily activities. It can be also applied in the factories and hospitals. Can you imagine a robot replacing a nurse and assisting a surgeon during medical procedures? We applaud our engineers and students for their fantastic discovery and research which will only enhance our world.

 

The research is funded by the Israeli Science Foundation. 

 

Loving the problem is the greatest way to invent

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