Google says it is developing an artificial intelligence (AI) software that is trained off real photos of a user and can then generate an infinite number of selfies so that a user doesn’t even have to activate their camera to post to Instagram.
At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity yesterday, Robert Wong, vice president of Google Creative Lab, says that the technology would eliminate the need for people to continuously and tediously pose and capture photos of themselves in real life, Fortune reports.
Adding to that, Google’s senior vice president of research, technology, and society, James Manyika said that the growth of generative AI is akin to the invention of the camera and would have similar effects on the creative community.
“When photography first arrived, many worried it signaled the end of art because it threatened to disrupt significant areas of work, like landscape painting and portraiture,” Manyika says.
“However, in many ways the opposite turned out to be true. Freed from the need to accurately reproduce reality, painters went to new places leading to the rise of impressionism, modernism, and so much more.”
Just Because We Can, Doesn’t Mean We Should
Fortune, rightly, points out that if Google were to develop and release an AI like this, it would have a dramatic impact on social media influencers. What Fortune doesn’t touch on is the potential impact this capability would have on an influencer’s follower’s perception of reality.
The mental health of those on social media isn’t great, especially for young people — namely teens. Instagram has been called the worst app for young people’s mental health for the better part of a decade. More recently, even Meta’s own internal research shows that Instagram is “toxic” for teen girls, namely due to social pressure and how the app is intrinsically linked with being a popularity contest.
The lives people post to Instagram are already not necessarily indicative of reality and allowing users to generate any situation they want for publication is not going to make that problem better — it’s going to exacerbate it.
AI is a powerful tool, and Google recognizes that and wants to be a major part of the conversation surrounding it. But without regulation, it’s not clear the effect that continued development into AI will have on society. AI might currently be one of the most popular topics online, but there is evidence that it is a more urgent threat to humanity than climate change.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.