Interesting article in Tuesday’s NYTimes on digital forensics — especially as it applies to scientists who doctor their images and data. It would be interesting to see how much (or how little) “evolutionary evidence” can withstand the scrutiny of digital forensics. Need it be added that digital forensics consists in drawing design inferences.
A Conversation With Hany Farid
Proving That Seeing Shouldn’t Always Be Believing
By CLAUDIA DREIFUS
Published: October 2, 2007
HANOVER, N.H. — As Hany Farid sat in his office here at Dartmouth College on a recent morning, he fiddled with his laptop and cracked disconcerting little jokes.
“Don’t ever send me a photograph of yourself,” said Dr. Farid, head of the Image Science Laboratory at Dartmouth. “I’ll do the most terrible things to it.”
Dr. Farid, a 41-year-old engineer, is a founder of a subdiscipline within computer science: digital forensics. Most days, he spends his time transforming ordinary images into ones with drastic new meanings. Click, goes his mouse. Courtney Love has joined Grandpa at the family barbecue. Click. Click. Elvis Presley is on Dartmouth’s board of trustees.
The purpose of all this manipulation is to discover how computerized forgeries are made. Intelligence agencies, news organizations and scientific journals employ Dr. Farid’s consulting services when they need to authenticate the validity of images. Dr. Farid sells a software package, “Q,” to clients so they, too, can become digital detectives.
An edited version of two hours’ worth of conversation follows.
Q. Let’s start with some definitions. What exactly is digital forensics?
A. It’s a new field. It didn’t exist five years ago. We look at digital media — images, audio and video — and we try to ascertain whether or not they’ve been manipulated. We use mathematical and computational techniques to detect alterations in them.