AI Imagery: From Changing Perspectives to Redefining Realities

NNicholas September 26, 2023 1:27 PM

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) image generation are changing the way we perceive reality. From creating alternative viewpoints of historic moments to potentially influencing elections, AI imagery's impact extends beyond the digital realm. But as this powerful tool becomes more accessible, the risks of misinformation and copyright issues loom large.

AI and the rewriting of history

A search for 'Tank Man' on Google last week yielded an unexpected first result. It wasn't the typical photos of Tiananmen Square, but an AI-generated image showing the same historic event from a new perspective: the protester taking a selfie with the tank. This image, created by Midjourney and reported by tech journalism startup 404 Media, was subsequently removed from Google's search results. However, the incident brought to the forefront the potential of AI imagery to craft alternate versions of history. This capability poses serious implications, particularly in the context of elections, where truth and facts are paramount.

The thin line: AI, images, and misinformation

The 'Tank Man' image incident is a striking example of how AI imagery can unintentionally propagate misinformation. Even though the image was posted innocuously, with context clearly indicating that it was AI-generated, it was later stripped of this context and presented as something else. This demonstrates the potential misuse of AI imagery. When coupled with the powerful influence of images, the spread of misinformation becomes even more potent. After all, a picture tells a thousand words, and seeing, as the saying goes, is believing.

The rise and risks of AI image generators

The incident involving 'Tank Man' underscores the rapid development of AI image generation technology. As these tools become more sophisticated and accessible, the potential for misrepresentation or misinterpretation is likely to rise. What was once the domain of skilled artists is now available to the least skilled. With AI image generators like Midjourney, DALL-E, and others, anyone can create artworks that were previously unimaginable. But as we embrace these exciting advancements, we must also remain vigilant about potential misuse and its implications.

As AI image generators gain traction, they also attract criticism from artists who claim their data is being used without consent. These models, they allege, are trained on their artwork, constituting a violation of copyright laws. Karla Ortiz, an artist who has sued several companies promoting AI image generators, has been vocal about her concerns. Her testimony to a US senate subcommittee about her fears for copyright in the age of AI underscores the ongoing legal implications and potential conflicts this technology might incite.

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