AI has been making a lot of headlines lately, and not just in the form of ChatGPT – an AI-generated ‘aerial view’ of surfers on a sun-drenched beach created by Definitely AI (see below), fooled judges win a photo contest organized by an Australian camera shop.
Red-faced at being taken in by an AI-generated image, the retailer, digiDirect, re-awarded the prize to a human entrant, and has now upped the ante by announcing a new photo contest that will see entries from both photographers and images created by AI, which it hopes will “resolve the man versus machine, or photo versus image, debate on a level playing field.”
The one-off man vs machine photo contest (opens in new tab)has no theme and is already underway, with both entries accepted until February 26.
What’s unique about this competition is that the judging panel – made up of several high-profile professional photographers from Australia – doesn’t know whether the images they’re looking at are photos of real subjects, taken by a human using a camera, or were taken by a human who powers an AI art generator.
Can an AI art generator win again?
AI’s triumph in a photo contest serves as a reminder of just how powerful AI art generators are becoming — and not just when it comes to producing weird and wacky images like those produced by Dall-Ewhere they are already frighteningly effective – but for creating highly convincing photo-realistic results.
Out of curiosity, I’ve used some of the leading AI art generators in an attempt to create realistic photos – including Midjourney’s Discord app, the tool Absolutely Ai used – and it’s not as easy as you might think.
Look closer and the cracks in AI graphics appear. When I spoke to Jamie Sissons, the founder of Absolutely Ai and creator of that winning image, he said, “It’s a compelling image because no one had any reason to think otherwise.”
Now AI will be in the spotlight a lot though and it feels like there’s less of a level playing field in the context of a photo contest where the judges are tipped and scrutinize images for evidence of AI input and I’d be very surprised if a AI image would win again.
The original competition provoked a backlash within the photography community towards AI art generators, which are seen as the latest technological threat to people trying to make a living in the creative industries – and I’m sure many people, whether they photographers or not, will strive for a human victor, even if the result doesn’t settle the debate between humans and AI once and for all.
Whoever – or whoever – wins, I really hope the competition draws a lot of engagement from both photographers and their potential AI rivals, and I can’t wait to see the result.