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  • Leon Emirali

Leon Emirali meets Barack Obama... or does he?

First things first, this photo is a fake. Years ago, it would have taken several hours to generate an image like this on Photoshop. Today, it took me 15 minutes.

Leon Emirali
Leon Emirali with Barack Obama... or is it?

Ok - it's a pretty bad Photoshop, but at first glance, it's enough to warrant a second look.

The rise of AI in image generation and editing has meant that what was once the domain of highly-skilled graphic designers has entered the mainstream.

This democratisation brings with it a wave of creative freedom and innovation. Artists, educators, small business owners, and hobbyists alike now have the power to bring their visions to life without the barriers of cost or technical skill. This ease of access puts powerful tools at the fingertips of millions of internet users around the world.

As with nearly all AI technologies, this newfound power is not without its pitfalls. One of the most concerning is the potential for the proliferation of fake news. As AI imagery tools become more sophisticated and accessible, the ability to create convincing, yet entirely fabricated, visual content becomes easier. This not only raises significant concerns about the integrity of visual information shared online, but also begs the question of whether large swathes of the population can spot faked images.

When I showed the Obama photo to my wife (32 years old), she laughed and said "good job". But when I showed it to her parents (in their 70s), they asked "what was Obama like?". I found that worrying.

The threat of AI-generated fake news calls for a proactive approach. Media literacy education must evolve to include the critical analysis of AI-generated content. People, of all ages and abilities, must be equipped with the skills to discern between authentic and manipulated imagery.

Without that level of understanding, our digital lives risk becoming more worrisome than they already are.

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