A study has found that 15 billion AI images have been produced in one year, it took 150 years for as many photographs to be taken.
The study by Everypixel Journal looked at how many AI images have been generated by DALL-E, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and Adobe Firefly and compared it to how many photographs were taken since photography was invented circa 1826.
It concluded that 15 billion images have been generated by AI so far and, according to a study from 2011, it took photography until 1975 to produce as many photos.
How the Study Reached the 15 Billion AI Image Number
The study draws on OpenAI’s reporting that users generate more than two million images on its DALL-E 2 platform which they estimated to be 916 million images generated in roughly 15 months.
Meanwhile, they took Midjourney’s assertion that its server receives 20 to 40 jobs per second to estimate that its 15 million registered users create 2.5 million images daily, resulting in 964 million images in total since its launch in July 2022.
Stable Diffusion is the most difficult AI image generator to judge because it is an open-source software meaning multiple platforms and apps harness its synthesizing power. Stable Diffusion’s own platforms are estimated to have produced 690 million images but the multiple companies that use its technology are estimated to have generated more than 12.5 billion images — 80 percent of all AI images created.
Lastly, Adobe Firefly announced in July that one billion images have been generated using its technology just three months after its launch.
A Pinch of Salt
The study is not entirely accurate. The authors themselves admit that there are “limitations” as their work is based on “available data and extrapolations.”
Plus, digital photography had not been invented in 1975. And analog photography is a laborious (but rewarding) process and is nothing like as straightforward as whipping out a smartphone to take a snap or even opening up an AI image generator to create an imaginative picture.
To put this into context, a recent study found that 1.8 trillion photos are taken each year. That’s a staggering 196 million photos taken per hour.
So, while AI images are proliferating they are still dwarfed by real photos.