Sony has revealed it is developing “in-camera authenticity technology” as part of a renewed effort to combat misinformation.
The technology conglomerate explains in an announcement post that “fake and manipulated images” have become a growing threat with the advent of generative AI, and could erode public trust in official news sources. To address this issue, future Sony cameras will include a digital signature feature that will allow these devices to create a “birth certificate for images.” It’s unknown what these so-called “birth certificates” will have – the company is quite light on the details.
Presumably the photo files will contain a slew of metadata describing things like when the photo was taken, whether any edits have been made since it was first captured, and what model of camera was used. Sony says the main goal here is to help professionals “ensure the authenticity of their work” and to give news agencies a tool against doctored photos.
In the latest round of development, Sony partnered with The Associated Press (AP), an American non-profit news organization, and Camera Bits, the company behind image sorting software Photo Mechanic. Together, the three of them tested the authenticity technology in an effort to see how well it performs in the ‘field’.
What that entailed is unfortunately unknown. Again, Sony hasn’t provided any details on this other than to say testing was completed last month. If we had to hazard a guess, some AP journalists might have taken a few cameras with this feature on the road.
What is known is that the digital signature upgrade will take place in the spring of 2024 via a global firmware update for the Alpha 9 III, Alpha 1 and Alpha 7S III cameras. We reached out to Sony with several questions, including what the field test looked like and what the signature houses are. This story will be updated if we hear back.
Possible new trend
It’s important to note that Sony is not a pioneer in this case. At the end of October, Leica unveiled its own ‘anti-AI’ camera: the M11-P rangefinder. Each photo taken is printed with a Content Credential label with information such as the date it was taken and what edits (if any) were made. However, it is incredibly expensive as the price tag is currently over $9,000. The high cost obviously limits the widespread availability of anti-AI technology.
Fortunately, Sony’s Alpha trio each costs significantly less than Leica’s model, meaning more people can authenticate their work. Please note that the digital signature patch is free. With Sony lowering the barrier, we hope other companies will roll out their own version of anti-AI software to more mid-range cameras and perhaps even smartphones.
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