In theory, these cryptographic standards ensure that if a professional photographer takes a photo for, say, Reuters and that photo is distributed through Reuters’ international news channels, both the editors who commission the photo and the consumers who view it will have access to a complete history of provenance data. They will know if the cows were hit, if the police cars were removed, if someone stepped out of the frame. Photo elements that, according to Parsons, you would want to be cryptographically provable and verifiable.
Of course, this is all based on the notion that we, the people looking at photos, will want to, care about, or know how to verify the authenticity of a photo. It assumes that we are able to distinguish between social, culture and news, and that these categories are clearly defined. Transparency is great, for sure; I still fell in love with Balenciaga Pope. The image of Pope Francis in a fancy jacket was first posted on the r/Midjourney subreddit as a sort of meme, spread among Twitter users, and then picked up by news outlets reporting on the virality and implications of the image generated by AI. Art, social, news, all were equally blessed by the Pope. Now we know it’s fake, but Balenciaga Pope will live forever in our brains.
After watching Magic Editor, I tried to articulate something to Shimrit Ben-Yair without assigning a moral value to it, ie I started my statement with “I’m trying not to assign a moral value to this.” It’s remarkable, I said, how much control of our future memories is in the hands of giant tech companies right now simply because of the tools and infrastructure that exist to record so much of our lives.
Ben-Yair paused for a full five seconds before answering. “Yeah, I mean… I think people trust Google to protect their data. And I see that as a very, very big responsibility that we have to carry.” It was a forgettable response, but luckily, he was recording. In a Google app.
After Adobe released Generative Filler This week, I wrote to Sam Lawton, the film student behind extended childhood, to ask him if he planned to use it. He still likes AI image generators like Midjourney and DALL-E 2, he wrote, but sees value in Adobe integrating generative AI directly into its most popular editing software.
“There’s been a discourse on Twitter for a while now about how AI will take over all graphic designer jobs, usually referencing smaller Gen AI companies that can generate logos and whatnot,” Lawton says. “Actually, it should be pretty obvious that a big player like Adobe would come in and give these tools directly to designers to keep within their ecosystem.”
Regarding his short film, he says that the reception has been “interesting”, since it has resonated with people much more than he thought. He had thought that the AI-distorted faces, the obvious fakery of some of the still images, combined with the fact that he was rooted in his own childhood, would create a barrier for people to connect with the film. “However, from what I’ve been told repeatedly, the feeling of nostalgia, combined with the uncanny valley, has seeped into the viewer’s own experience,” he says.
Lawton tells me that he has found that the process of being able to see more context around his core memories is therapeutic, even when the AI-generated memory was not entirely true.