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The role of 'open' in image credibility in a 'post truth', 'fake news' world

28 Sep 2021


Dr Sabrina Caldwell

The un-digitised snap-happy society of last century, when a philosopher like Susan Sontag could confidently state that “a photograph passes for incontrovertible proof that something exists, or did exist, which is like what’s in the picture” is behind us. Photographic images fly at us every day from all directions, most with little explication and many having been altered in ways big and small. For the most part, we consume these images uncritically, partly because of the legacy of over 150 years of perceiving photographs as representative of the real world, partly because it is effortful to try to guess if a photographic image has been manipulated, and partly because the image provenance that would help us understand how to regard the image is often inadequate, inconspicuous, and fragile. The good news is that image credibility is a known problem that is being actively addressed.

This presentation will explore human perspectives and perceptions of image credibility, and describe early efforts underway to address the problem. In particular,  the “JPEG Stake in Fake Media” image authenticity standard under development, the recently announced Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA), and consider how open source licensing frameworks might have an important role to play in bolstering image credibility through contributing to image provenance. 

Dr Sabrina Caldwell is a member of the Australian Chapter of Creative Commons, a researcher at ANU, and has an extensive background in the IT industry. In this presentation she will explore the human perspective and perceptions of image credibility in the news and online and the important role ‘open’ has in ensuring image provenance.


Dr Caldwell is a researcher in the ANU School of Computing, investigating human perspectives and perceptions of image credibility and affective reasoning. Using biometric signal processing and artificial intelligence, she is investigating how humans respond to deception and credibility, with the goal of introducing innovative solutions for bolstering online image and knowledge credibility. In short, she would like to help halt and hopefully reverse the erosion of confidence in our day to day knowledge artefacts. She is a member of the international JPEG Committee and the Australian Chapter of Creative Commons. She hold PhDs in Computer Science and the Arts and Social Sciences, and have an extensive background in the Information Technology industry.