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THE judges of a photography contest unknowingly handed out the top prize to an eerily real computer-generated image.
The stunning sunset “photograph” scooped the top spot in a weekly themed competition run by an electronics retailer in Australia.
The picture was submitted by artificial intelligence art studio – Absolutely. AI.
The Sydney-based company works on the mission statement: “Who is the better artist, man or machine? Let’s find out.”
And on Wednesday night, oblivious judges awarded the studio’s computer-generated image the top prize of a $100 voucher.
After winning the competition – run by DigiDirect – the firm did immediately fess up and refused to take the cash prize.
Created using artificial intelligence, the dazzling image shows a sunrise, a breaking wave and two surfers.
It was entered under the name Jan van Eycke – the painter of The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the most stolen artwork of all time.
The studio warned “machine is now the superior artist to man”.
“The surfers in our image never existed. Neither does that particular beach or stretch of ocean,” it said.
“It’s made up of an infinite amount of pixels taken from infinite photographs that have been uploaded online over the years by anyone, and everyone… and what you’re left with is an entirely convincing award-winner.
“History may look back on our little photography experiment as a turning point when we started to notice the new world we’re living in.”
The company said it pulled the stunt “to prove that we’re at a turning point with artificially intelligent technology by passing the ultimate test”.
“Could an AI-generated image not only slip by unnoticed but actually be awarded the top prize by a photography expert? The answer is resoundingly, yes,” the studio said.
“Recently, we have seen ChatGPT pass law, business and medical exams, but no one has been discussing the impact that AI will have on the creative industries.”
Jamie Sissons from Absolutely. AI admitted the future of the creative industry looks “terrifying” – and said his AI creations outdid real work by humans.
“As a creator, it is terrifying. I look back at the work that I have created. And if I’m being honest, it all looks so basic,” he told news.com.au.
“I’ve won photography awards. I’ve won awards in filmmaking and things like that. And my stuff doesn’t look as good as what a machine can generate.”
Another AI company – Midjourney – also creates terrifyingly real images from simple prompts, such as “women at a party”.
It uses machine learning and a neural network to put together pictures based on the prompts offered to it by humans.
The controversial AI is trained by being given photos which it then draws upon to create its own images.
Midjourney has been used to create artwork, comic strips, and even whole books.
And a piece of artwork by Midjourney also won a competition in 2022.
It is controversial as artists believe it is stealing their work as the AI has to be “trained” using their copyrighted pieces.
AI-generated images are an interesting curiosity – but there are fears as the technology develops it could one day be weaponised.
A former White House official warned deepfake AI-generated people will be among us by 2024 – and nearly impossible to detect.
One image showing three blonde women with their arms around each other caused quite a stir on social media.
At first glance, the picture seems perfectly normal – but they are actually the ultimate catfish.
All of them are 100 per cent AI-generated, created by software digesting gigabytes and gigabytes of real pictures, before creating its own versions.
Deepfake technology can create spookily accurate versions of real people, but some of the more intricate details seem to always go slightly wrong.
It is believed that the image was created through the AI image-generating program Stable Diffusion, a German-based deep-learning text-to-image model.
We previously revealed how China is already using a Matrix-like network of AI-generated people to dominate the information space online.
Twitter and Facebook profiles are being fronted by pictures of people who simply do not exist – but have constructed by AI software.
The photos are almost indistinguishable from real people and are photorealistic with the imperfections that bring faces to life.