A real image won two awards in an AI competition. Here's the inside story.

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Miles Astray is a multidisciplinary artist who writes and paints about the world while traveling. When invited to submit a piece in the artificial intelligence category of the 1839 Awards photography competition, he decided to make a statement.

“I've seen a few examples in the last couple of years where people have entered AI art into real photography competitions, particularly Last year at the Sony World Photo Awards, an AI image won the creative category there. I thought, why not twist the story and enter a real image into the AI ​​competition?” Astray told CBS News.

Here's a (very real) photo of the Astray:

This photo of a flamingo by Miles Astray, titled “FLAMINGONE,” won two prizes after entering the competition's artificial intelligence category — but it's a real photo.

Miles astray

Titled “Flamingo,” the photo was taken on a trip to Aruba in 2022. It shows a flamingo scratching its belly in such a way that the large bird appears almost headless. The image was so striking that it won both third place in the AI ​​category and the People's Vote Award, beating out the real one. AI creations.

“Miles' image was just realistic enough to feel like it was created by AI, which gives you an idea of ​​what AI is doing and what kind of people we are,” said Lily Fairman, director and co-founder of Creative Resource Collective. Expect to be portrayed.” 1839 awards run, told CBS News.

AI Art Usually generated by software that interprets a user-supplied text description, or prompt. This software creates thousands to millions of reference images to produce digital images, pixel by pixel. Despite becoming increasingly realistic, many AI-generated images still have a subtle “uncanny valley” quality, which doesn't quite look right to the human eye.

“I wanted to show that there's a human and emotional quality that AI can't produce,” Astray said. “The fact that in the end this picture was chosen not only by the jury, but also by public vote, proves that and I'm very happy about that.”

After hearing the news of her win on June 11, Astray informed contest organizers that the photo she submitted was a real photo. By the next day, he was disqualified from the competition. But judges and pageant organizers appreciated Astray's message.

“We never expected that someone would try to inject a non-AI image into the AI, I think the assumption is always the opposite,” Fairman said. “anyone Can be fooled With this kind of stuff, let's be real. But also most importantly, at the end of the day, we agree with Miles' statement. “His win and something like this happening officially, it gives everyone a message of hope that nature and photographers have a key place in our world and it's not something that can be replicated by computers or AI.”

In response to the photography win, the photo contest added a note that “only images created by AI may be submitted to the AI ​​category.”

Misguided, unfazed by his own incompetence, acknowledges that there may soon be a time when AI-generated art will be created. Practically identical For real photos: “It's gotten to the point where there are some photos that are just like, indistinguishable from a real photo. So that technology exists, and it's not going to go away.”

He said that there is still hope for the future of artists. The age of AI: “There will always be a place for real photographers and other content creators.”

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