Google Search for Singer Israel Kamakawiwoʻole Returns AI Images

A real photo of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole and a fake one
Singer Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, left, the AI image of him that appears at the top of Google search, right.

After listening to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s hauntingly beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, it’s not out of the question to wonder what the larger-than-life singer looks like. But do that today, and you’ll be greeted by an AI-generated version of him.

In yet another instance where an AI image has risen to the top of Google rankings, internet users will see an artificial intelligence (AI) image of Kamakawiwoʻole sitting on a beach with a guitar laughing manically.

“Seriously, don’t trust anything you see online anymore. Faking stuff is trivial. You cannot tell the difference,” writes Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who first spotted the AI image.

As of today (Monday), the AI images of Kamakawiwoʻole remain at the top of Google search which were first posted to the r/midjourney subreddit four months ago.

Google search for Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
PetaPixel’s search for Israel Kamakawiwoʻole returned AI images displayed prominently.

“Why is this the first picture of him on Google? It’s cool and all but don’t you think he deserves a real picture of him when people look him up,” writes one concerned Redditor beneath the original post.

Kamakawiwoʻole weighed 757 pounds (343 kilograms) and is best known for his medley cover of Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What a Wonderful World which featured in several Hollywood movies. Somewhere Over The Rainbow was originally sung by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.

AI image of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
One of the AI images of Kamakawiwoʻole posted to Reddit.

Business Insider notes that the AI images are inaccurate because it depicts Kamakawiwoʻole playing the guitar when the Hawaiian musician was known for playing the ukulele.

In September, PetaPixel reported that a search for Tiananmen Square’s Tank Man brought up an AI-generated picture of a man taking a selfie in front of a tank.

Other incidents have seen a search for “Johannes Vermeer”, the Dutch baroque master who painted Girl with a Pearl Earring, returning an AI-generated version of the picture showing a girl with glowing earrings. As well as the top result for Edward Hopper returning AI results in the style of the American realist.

These instances raise serious questions on how search engines will be able to display truthful content as they contend with the huge influx of AI-generated images that are currently flooding the web.