Ironically, the Pope commented on ethical AI usage this weekend, too.
Did they fool you? Those mega-viral images of Pope Francis looking fresh to death in a pristine white puffer are AI-generated fakes.
As Snopes reports, that pic of Il Papa that went viral over the weekend is, as lots of people suspected, a fake — and, as always, the debunking site has the receipts to prove it.
Though it is quite a good fake, the first time the image was posted online appears to have been on the r/Midjourney subreddit on Friday, March 24 under the befitting headline, "The Pope Drip."
The boys in Brooklyn could only hope for this level of drip pic.twitter.com/MiqkcLQ8Bd
— Nikita S (@singareddynm) March 25, 2023
Midjourney is, as many armchair AI heads will know, a powerful AI generator that can spit out photorealistic images of, among tons of other things, real people that are almost good enough to be believed.
Indeed, Midjourney was the program behind AI-concocted images of Donald Trump getting arrested by the NYPD, which went moderately viral amongst both his fans and his foes — though most seemed in on the joke.
Not so with the dripped-out Pope. Though there were minute tells that folks on the lookout can use to detect AI fakes — a digital paintbrush-is-ness visible on the faces, the backgrounds are fuzzy, and the hands still don't look perfect — many were taken in by the Swag Pope.
As with the fake Trump arrest photos, the virality of these AI-generated images is concerning — especially considering how quickly these neural networks are improving.
Ironically enough, the real Pope spoke about ethical uses of AI soon after the fake drip images went viral, though it doesn't appear that he commented specifically about the phony images of him circulating online.
For now, eagle-eyed netizens are still able to detect real and what's generated by AI — but who knows how long that will last?
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