Artificial intelligence art service Midjourney and Shutterstock will identify their computer-generated images in Google Search.

Google Search stock image.
Image: Adobe Stock/Thaspol

Google will add artificial intelligence to several online safety features and give users more insight into whether their information might have been posted on the dark web, the tech giant announced during the Google I/O conference on May 10. The new security features will roll out to select markets in the upcoming weeks or months.

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One concern about the proliferation of artificial intelligence is that it may become difficult to verify whether images are real or digitally generated. For businesses, having a quick way to tell the difference could prevent confusion around AI-generated images’ copyrights and origins. Organizations could also use these labels as part of company policies regarding the use of AI-generated content.

Google wants to get ahead of this problem with the About This Image feature, which indicates whether an image is original or AI-generated (Figure A).

Figure A

An example of the About This Image feature proving an image was generated with the AI ​​art service Midjourney.
An example of the About This Image feature proving an image was generated with the AI ​​art service Midjourney. Image: Google

As well as detecting photorealistic AI-generated photos, the About This Image feature provides context about when the image and similar images were first indexed by Google, where it first appeared and where else it has appeared online. This context could help identify misinformation and photo manipulation, as well as artificially-generated images.

Google offers AI image generation and plans to roll out markups that will label those images as AI-generated in Search. Other companies like Midjourney and Shutterstock are working with Google to label their images when they appear in Search (Figure B).

Figure B

An image created by the AI ​​program Midjourney with a markup label in Google Search.
An image created by the AI ​​program Midjourney with a markup label in Google Search. Image: Google

Google says About This Image will be available “in the coming months.”

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Safe browsing gets an AI polish

In addition, Google will enhance its safe browsing features by using AI to scan for dangerous sites and files. The new Safe Browsing API for Chrome and Android scans compromised sites and other potential attack avenues with AI trained to recognize bad actors. The API can detect and block 25% more phishing attempts per month than the existing safety features, Google said.

Turning an eye on the dark web

Google One subscribers in the US can run dark web reports to see whether their email address or other personal information is listed among attackers’ lists of targets. Google can then offer suggestions on how to secure the user’s accounts. Google is now expanding this feature to anyone in the US with a Gmail account. This will roll out “in the next few weeks,” and certain international markets will follow after.

“Google’s extension of its dark web report beyond Google One plans is a step in the right direction and part of Google’s responsibility in the ecosystem,” said Roy Akerman, co-founder and CEO of identity and security company Rezonate. “However, we [have] seen with Google One existing customers, they may be aware their information is available in the dark web, yet no action is taken. Knowing is not enough; action must be taken to understand the potential risk and account changes must be put in place.”

For example, a user whose Social Security number was stolen could report that to the government. Bank account credential theft could be reported to the bank, and business information associated with the account could be reported to a business’ IT department.

Gmail spam filtering and Maps security will be enhanced

Some other features are not getting AI enhancements but are being expanded.

For instance, Gmail will handle spam slightly differently going forward. Users will have new options for how to separate and review files and decide what might be spam. The same type of spam filtering used in Gmail is also coming to Google Drive (Figure C).

Figure C

A demonstration of the spam reporting feature in Google Drive.
A demonstration of the spam reporting feature in Google Drive. Image: Google

Google is betting on passwords becoming a thing of the past by offering more options for signing in, including passkeys.

Google Maps will make it easier for users to delete their search history. Google proposes this could prevent people from noticing whether someone has bought them a surprise gift; it could also prevent more sinister uses like stalking.

For more on Google’s I/O announcements, read about how the PaLM 2 large language model will be integrated into Search, Maps and other everyday services.

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