Singaporean researcher Wang Weimin alone beat 469 teams from around the world in a competition to create the world’s best model of artificial intelligence (AI) that would recognize deepfakes. Wang’s model could separate real videos from those where faces, voices, or both were digitally altered with an accuracy of 98.53%.

For the victory, Wang Weimin received a cash prize of $100,000. He was also awarded a $300,000 grant to commercialize the invention. However, the man, who works in the Chinese technology giant ByteDance, plans to integrate the development into the BytePlus platform, which is owned by the company. In this way, the platform will be able to offer a deepfake detection service to its customers.

“Good or bad, deepfake is an emerging technology that you simply can’t ignore,” Mr Wang said, adding that he decided to take part because the prevailing challenges facing the media aligned with his research interests. He has a strong interest in solving real-world problems by building AI products.

Deepfake technology uses AI to create very realistic images and audio that can be used to replace one person’s appearance and voice with another. This can be used not only for entertainment, but also for misinformation. For example, Russian propaganda spread deepfake video with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.

Speaking at a prize presentation ceremony held at the NUS Institute of Data Science on Friday, Minister of State for Communications and Information Tan Kiat How said the challenge was timely, given the rising threat of deepfakes and their potential to spread misinformation.

“Technology is not just part of the problem, it can also be part of the solution. However, technology cannot be the only solution to misinformation. It must be accompanied by a broader set of measures across society,” the Minister stressed.