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Experts are worried after people fall for incredibly realistic AI-generated image of The Pope

Charisa Bossinakis

| Last updated 

Experts are worried after people fall for incredibly realistic AI-generated image of The Pope

Featured Image Credit: Reddit/Midjourney/trippy_art_specia

Experts are worried after the internet believed an AI-generated image of Pope Francis was really him.

The AI program Midjourney was used to create the image of His Holiness, which was first shared on a Reddit page honoring AI-generated art.

In the viral pic, the Catholic Church leader can be seen wearing an oversized white puffer and bejeweled crucifix.


I mean, the Pope looks less likely to lead a sermon and more likely to step out on the slopes with the Kardashians in the Hamptons.

Slay Fray!

As the faux image began racking up millions of views, many were in disbelief it wasn’t a real shot.


One person wrote: “It’s crazy how realistic this looks.”

Another said: “Wtf?? I actually thought this was real for so long....”

While a third shared: “IT WAS MADE WITH AI HOLY SH**T.”

However, in the wake of our eyes deceiving us, experts are worried about where we're headed in the future.


And, spoiler alert, we’re doomed.

No, that’s a tad dramatic, but we should be concerned about our inability to distinguish fake photos.


Henry Ajder, AI expert and presenter of the BBC radio series The Future Will be Synthesised, told i that AI technology had developed at a ‘lighting speed’.

Thankfully in this example there are some inconsistencies that can be spotted in this image, including the Pope’s hand holding the water bottle, which, according to Ajder, looks like a ‘glitchy mess’.

While programs such as OpenAI and Midjourney are working on having better safety restrictions to inform viewers of fake images, Ajders said we still need to be wary.


He added: “Some of these images are already very, very hard to determine whether they are real or not. It gives us a sense of how bad actors, agents spreading disinformation, could weaponise these tools, particularly as some of the flaws in the current model start to be trained out and disappear.”

Dr Mhairi Aitken, ethics fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, also shared a similar sentiment, adding this could lead to a deeper pool of issues, including disseminating misinformation.

She said: “It could be images of the war in Ukraine, and if those are contested as being potentially fake, it significantly changes the narrative.

"That significantly changes what people believe to be true, and has implications for political positions and democratic processes.”

So the next time you're perusing on the internet, have a closer look, folks!

Topics: Technology, News, Social Media, Pope Francis

Charisa Bossinakis
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