Google's video AI was tricked into thinking a video about apes was about spaghetti

researchers trick google cloud video intelligence into misclassifying videos data center header
While artificial intelligence is an incredibly important field that’s growing by leaps and bounds, perhaps its most interesting lessons concerns just how incredible the human brain is at performing certain functions. While computers might be better at performing math and looking dozens of chess moves into the future, they can’t yet compete with the human brain at figuring out things like a video’s topic.

A recent research project demonstrated just that fact by feeding videos to Google’s Cloud Video Intelligence API and seeing if it could determine exactly what a given video was about. Apparently, this seemingly simple task is a challenge for Google’s AI and points out the difficulty of creating automatic systems to categorize video, as Motherboard reports.

The research team in question works at the University of Washington, and the team used some trickery to see how smart the Google API really is. Currently in beta, the Google Cloud Video Intelligence API has one job, which was to “make video searchable” and to annotate video to make it easier for humans to search through them.

In their tests, the researchers injected extraneous, and subliminal, images of a pasta bowl into a video featuring primatologist Jane Goodall and gorillas. The result was that the Google AI concluded that the video was actually about spaghetti and not the apes. Another example involved placing a picture of an Audi into a video about tigers, which caused the AI to conclude that the video was about cars.

researchers trick google cloud video intelligence into misclassifying videos api tricked images
University of Washington

Although it might sound somewhat comical, these mistakes point out a serious issue with the AI. As the researchers noted in their conclusion:

“However, we showed that the API has certain security weaknesses. Specifically, an adversary can insert an image, periodically and at a very low rate, into the video in a way that all the generated shot labels are about the inserted image. Such vulnerability seriously undermines the applicability of the API in adversarial environments.”

Even worse, according to the researchers, “Furthermore, an adversary can bypass a video filtering system by inserting a benign image into a video with illegal contents.” The fact that the process of doing so requires no specialized knowledge about the AI’s machine learning algorithms or about video annotation in general was particularly disturbing.

Ultimately, what the research points out is that AI has a long way to go before it can match the human brain in determining things like a video’s topic. Inserting subliminal messages into video has been known for a long time to affect the human psyche, but at least a human wouldn’t think that a video about apes is actually about spaghetti — the human would probably just start craving pasta instead.


‘Flexgate’ is the latest controversy plaguing some MacBook Pro owners

iFixit recently uncovered a new "Flexgate" issue with MacBook Pros after some consumers reported a "stage light" effect, where the backlighting on the device would fail and cause the bottom of the display to become slightly distorted.

Here are 8 GoPro tips to get the most out of your action cam

There's more to your GoPro camera than just mounting it to your skateboard. Whether it's finding the best accessories or understanding the settings more thoroughly, learn to shoot video like a pro with these simple GoPro tips and tricks.

Sharing your best gameplay moments is quick and easy on the Xbox One

The current generation of consoles make it easier than ever to share your gaming highlights with the world. Here's a quick guide on how you can record a gameplay video on Xbox One.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (February 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in January and February, from new original series to classic films.

Open RAR files with the greatest of ease using these awesome applications

Few things are more bothersome than not being able to open a file when you need it most. Check out our quick guide about how to open RAR files in Windows and MacOS. We will walk you through the process, step by step.

Google Chrome’s latest decision could prevent most ad-blockers from functioning

Google Chrome's newest change is cited as a step forward for speed and security, but could profoundly alter how the majority of ad-blocking extensions operate. The move potentially gives Google more control over which ads can be blocked.

Samsung permits peek at an eye-popping, 15-inch 4K OLED laptop display

Samsung is now preparing for the new OLED laptop trend and is providing a look at an eye-popping 15.6-inch 4K OLED panel that is expected to power larger premium laptops in the new year.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Latest ransomware targets gamers with a malicious sophistication

The latest piece of ransomware, Anatova, has been discovered by the security team at McAfee. Employing a smart tactic to confuse users and able to clean its tracks as it evolves, this is one tough piece of ransomware.

Are AMD Navi GPUs coming soon? Reference found in MacOS hints at release date

Fresh off the announcement of Radeon Vega VII at CES 2019, in the latest rumors, source code references in macOS hint that the next 7nm AMD Navi products might be coming in July.

Battle of the best: How does the new XPS 13 compete with our favorite ZenBook?

The ZenBook 13 UX333 continues Asus's tradition of offering great budget-oriented 13-inch laptop offerings. Does this affordable machine offer enough value to compete with the excellent Dell XPS 13?

Dell’s 75-inch monitor is a Surface Hub competitor built for the classroom

Dell's new 75 4K Interactive Touch Monitor is a 75-inch display that's built for classroom collaboration. With multi-touch and pen input support, Dell is positioning its new display as an alternative to Microsoft's Surface Hub.

LG's Gram 14 lasts longer, but is it a better 2-in-1 than the HP Spectre x360?

LG's Gram 14 uses a lightweight chassis and a lot of battery capacity to battle some other great 2-in-1 options. Can it take on the leader, HP's Spectre x360 13 that is on our "best of" lists?