‘AI isn’t a threat’ – Boris Eldagsen, whose fake photo duped the Sony judges, hits back

  • April 18, 2023
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The German artist caused uproar this week when he revealed the shot that won a prestigious award wasn’t what it seemed. But, he insists, AI isn’t about sidelining humans – it’s about liberating artists

Since 52-year-old German artist Boris Eldagsen went public with the fact that he won a Sony world photography award with an AI-generated image, relations between him and the award body have soured. Sony have issued a statement, saying: “We no longer feel we are able to engage in a meaningful and constructive dialogue with him.” His website reads: “Sony: Stop saying nonsense!”

“I don’t know why they behaved like this,” he says, speaking to me from Berlin on the morning after the controversy broke. But I have a fair idea: plainly, they feel like they were conned, and had their aesthetic discernment called into question. If you can’t tell the difference between a photograph and an AI-generated image, then you may as well go home. But maybe both parties are being both too hard and too easy on themselves. Maybe, when done well enough, AI images can’t be distinguished from photography by anybody. And yet, as Eldagsen says, “I love photography, I love generating images with AI, but I’ve realised, they’re not the same. One is writing with light, one is writing with prompts. They are connected, the visual language was learned from photography, but now AI has a life of its own. If people want to be silent and not talk about that, that’s wrong.”

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