Researchers from the Department of Science at Dartmouth College have developed a software tool for rating the extent to which a photo has been Photoshopped, aiming to bring a bit of honesty back into images of celebrities and models.
This kind of unrealistic and, perhaps more importantly, unobtainable idea of beauty pervades every area of the media, but with the new software a scale rating could be developed which would give a value of 1-5 in order to inform the degree to which the photo has been doctored.
The tool was developed by analysing a variety of photos, both before and after photoshopping, creating a foundation. The researchers, Farid and Kee, could then go on to ask study groups to rank photos 1-5 (very similar-very different) on the amount they believed a given photo had been altered.
The two sets of data could then be compared and an algorithm developed, which would give a value on how much a photo had been manipulated.
The idea is that this value could be placed at the bottom of images which would give people a better idea of what's been going on. The difficult part is the sell, as many publications both on and offline depend on celebrities for their readership. However, on the flip side there are publications that don't heavily rely on tweaking, so a low Photoshop value could be seen as very positive, gaining readership for their honesty.
There is also growing use and advancements in augmented reality (AR) which could also see a change in the way we view images, and, as the name suggests reality; this adding a digital front in the battle for transparency.
And it is this transparency that is the key. Given that technology to manipulate photos is here to stay, if we are aware that something or someone is being altered to look a certain way then it's arguably more palatable; we can go into it with our eyes open. However, if these images are changed without our knowledge it can be very damaging, especially with respect of the young, producing an idea of beauty which is completely artificial.
Saying this, the rating system would only be of use if every publication was on board, "it’s not something you want to rush into," Farid said. "Everyone would need to be in agreement and the right metrics and technology would have to be in place."
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