Sony World Photography Awards 2023 winner used an AI image creator to make a point
German artist Boris Eldagsen wanted to test the competition to see if the judges could determine if an image was AI generated
The winner of the Sony World Photography Awards 2023 has revealed that the image he submitted was actually created by AI.
German artist Boris Eldagsen won the creative open category with his entry Pseudomnesia: The Electrician, which you can see above, and has since refused the award.
Eldagsen said he submitted the picture to test the competition’s judges and to create an “open discussion” about the impact of AI on photography. However, organizers have since told BBC News that Eldagsen had misled them.
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Sony Photo Award
🏆 An artist has won a Sony World Photography Award using AI
🤖 The artist revealed it was an AI-generated image after winning
✋ He’s since refused the award
🗣️ The artist hopes his entry will spark an open discussion about AI
A spokesperson for the World Photography Organisation said that Elgadsen said the piece was a “co-creation” of his image using AI.
“The creative category of the open competition welcomes various experimental approaches to image making from cyanotypes and rayographs to cutting-edge digital practices,” the spokesperson said.
“As such, following our correspondence with Boris and the warranties he provided, we felt that his entry fulfilled the criteria for this category, and we were supportive of his participation.
“Additionally, we were looking forward to engaging in a more in-depth discussion on this topic and welcomed Boris' wish for dialogue by preparing questions for a dedicated Q&A with him for our website.”
In a statement on Eldagsen’s website, the artist thanked the judges for “selecting my image and making this historic moment” and questioned whether any of them “knew or suspected that it was AI-generated”.
Eldagsen went on to say, “I applied as a cheeky monkey, to find out if the competitions are prepared for AI images to enter. They are not.”
However, Eldagsen has since gone on the offensive in response to some of the comments from the competition’s organizers saying, “[they’ve] refused to answer my questions, the questions of the press, the questions of concerned photographers. So stop saying ‘we were looking forward to engaging in a more in-depth discussion on this topic’ – it is wrong.”
The rapid rise of AI continues to be a hot topic. We’ve seen trusted publications such as CNET use AI writers, search engines like Bing adopt Chat GPT, and even Apple use AI to narrate audiobooks.
Some tech leaders like Elon Musk have called for a halt on AI until safeguards can be put in place, as it’s clear the technology has reached a tipping point where it’s often indistinguishable from a human’s work. Some countries like Italy have even moved to ban the use of AI until more research has been carried out.
The Sony World Photography Awards 2023 is yet another example in a growing list of instances where AI has spoofed people into thinking something was created by a human.
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