Ross: With new photo AI how are we supposed to trust our friends’ vacation photos?

Oct 31, 2023, 8:03 AM | Updated: 4:36 pm

photo ai trust...

Rock and roll band "The Beatles" pose for a portrait wearing suits in circa 1964. (L-R) Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images) Plus a photo shopped photo of Dave Ross (Bonneville International)

(Bonneville International)

I’ve denied myself the luxury of getting a new phone until I figure out all the features of the one I have now, which may be never.

But I was really tempted by Brian Chen’s New York Times review of Google’s new Pixel 8 because it can use built-in AI to clean up your photos instantly. Not just by adjusting the exposure or the color temperature but by eliminating any part of the picture you don’t like.

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He posted some before-and-after pictures from a trip to the dog park. One shot was a beautiful portrait of a happy dog – that had been ruined by a distracting piece of paper sitting on a rock nearby.

The phone flawlessly removed the eyesore.

But it can do a lot more. He could move the dog to a different part of the scene. This is less perfect because it had to reconstruct the dog’s face, which made it look like an alien, but you can imagine the potential.

And that’s what Mr. Chen found scary.

Being a responsible journalist, he made sure the fake photos in his article were clearly labeled. However, we know some self-appointed journalists will gleefully pass off doctored photos as real and sow chaos wherever they can.

I have to think we’re prepared for this because we’ve all been faking photos long before AI.

Take your family photo album – the professionally posed pictures are fake by nature, but it’s also how we edit the picture selection: it’s always the kids doing something cute – no indication that any of them ever threw a tantrum!

We’ve all air-brushed our history one way or another.

So yes, this will probably be misused by the purveyors of chaos, which is why most of us know that when you see something that makes you angry – you check other sources.

But there’s another downside to making built-in AI photography universally available: it threatens to discredit your un-doctored pictures. I have a great picture of me sitting in the Oval Office with the president. Who’s going to believe that anymore?

And when friends share their snapshots, instead of trusting them, I’m going to wonder – Is your kid really that cute? Did you really rappel down the Grand Canyon naked? Is that really you accepting a Nobel prize for your Master’s thesis? Are those really your abs?

Only the phone will know.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: With new photo AI how are we supposed to trust our friends’ vacation photos?