TECHNOLOGY

Facebook seeks ways to combat deepfakes

Facebook is spearheading a competition to find new ways to identify computer-altered videos known as deepfakes. But some artificial intelligence specialists say the strategy might backfire.

Those experts say the contest will likely hasten the already accelerating arms race between the malicious actors using AI to create increasingly realistic faked videos, and the technology companies racing to detect them.

“Any algorithm used to identify deepfakes could also be used to make deepfakes better,” says Rachel Thomas, the co-founder of machine-learning lab fast.ai.

Facebook’s competition, called the Deepfake Detection Challenge, is a partnership between Facebook, the technology industry consortium Partnership on AI, Microsoft and experts from seven academic institutions. Events will begin in October and run until March. Facebook said that it has dedicated $10 million to fund the competition, which will include a not-yet-announced number of grants and awards.

Facebook said it will release the data set for the challenge later this year. The company is commissioning a “realistic data set” consisted of videos using paid actors as well as altered versions of those videos. Competitors will use those data sets to develop detection codes. Facebook will enter the challenge too but will not accept any monetary prizes.

Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said in a blog post that Facebook’s hope is that the competition will help the company accelerate its progress and create more open source tools as it battles a “constantly evolving problem.”

— Marie C. Baca

PHARMACEUTICALS

Novo Nordisk will offer generic insulin

Novo Nordisk will offer cheaper insulin to U.S. diabetics, the Danish drugmaker said Friday, in response to criticism over the high price of the medication and after similar moves by rivals Sanofi and Eli Lilly.

President Trump had made high prescription drug prices a top issue in his 2016 campaign, saying drug companies were “getting away with murder.”

Novo will offer a generic version of its most heavily prescribed insulin drug, Novolog, used by about a million U.S. patients, at a 50 percent discount compared to the current list price, the company said in a statement.

The list price for one vial will be $144.68.

Novo will also introduce a so-called $99 cash card program in January, which patients can use to buy three vials or two packs of pens of Novo’s analog insulins for a flat cost of $99, which for most diabetics is an adequate supply for one month.

The cost of insulin for treating Type 1 diabetes in the United States has nearly doubled over a five-year period, leading some patients to put their own health at risk by rationing the medication.

“While we will continue to do what we can to help address affordability challenges in the short-term, changes within the system are required to make sustainable and meaningful affordability a reality,” said Novo in a statement.

— Reuters

Also in Business

British Airways is preparing to cancel nearly all its flights on Monday and Tuesday after pilots vowed to strike following a breakdown in talks over a new contract, according to a person familiar with the matter. The carrier will scrap both short and long-haul destinations, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information isn't public. A spokeswoman for the airline, which is a unit of the International Airlines Group, declined to comment on any cancellations but said the airline operates about 850 flights a day.

The White House is considering a plan that would have the government directly purchase uranium from U.S. producers as it contemplates ways to revive the flagging domestic mining industry. A group set up by President Trump to study the issue is considering a request by the nuclear industry to use the Defense Production Act, a 68-year-old Cold War-era statute.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Friday that it had filed an administrative complaint aimed at preventing title insurance provider Fidelity National Financial from buying rival Stewart Information Services. The FTC valued the deal at $1.2 billion. The two firms are among four that insure buyers and sellers against problems with a property's title.

— From news services