Where Memory Ends and Generative AI Begins

11 months ago 48

In theory, these cryptographic standards ensure that if a professional photographer snaps a photo for, say, Reuters and that photo is distributed across Reuters international news channels, both the editors commissioning the photo and the consumers viewing it would have access to a full history of provenance data. They’ll know if the cows were punched up, if police cars were removed, if someone was cropped out of the frame. Elements of photos that, according to Parsons, you’d want to be cryptographically provable and verifiable. 

Of course, all of this is predicated on the notion that we—the people who look at photos—will want to, or care to, or know how to, verify the authenticity of a photo. It assumes that we are able to distinguish between social and culture and news, and that those categories are clearly defined. Transparency is great, sure; I still fell for Balenciaga Pope. The image of Pope Francis wearing a stylish jacket was first posted in the subreddit r/Midjourney as a kind of meme, spread amongst Twitter users and then picked up by news outlets reporting on the virality and implications of the AI-generated image. Art, social, news—all were equally blessed by the Pope. We now know it’s fake, but Balenciaga Pope will live forever in our brains. 

After seeing Magic Editor, I tried to articulate something to Shimrit Ben-Yair without assigning a moral value to it, which is to say I prefaced my statement with, “I’m trying to not assign a moral value to this.” It is 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 a full five seconds before responding. “Yeah, I mean … I think people trust Google with their data to safeguard. And I see that as a very, very big responsibility for us to carry.” It was a forgettable response, but thankfully, I was recording. On a Google app. 

After Adobe unveiled Generative Fill this week, I wrote to Sam Lawton, the student filmmaker behind Expanded Childhood, to ask if he planned to use it. He’s still partial to AI image generators like Midjourney and DALL-E 2, he wrote, but sees the usefulness of Adobe integrating generative AI ...

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