Viral image of the Pope in a white coat was faked with AI
Realistic AI-generated pictures of Pope Francis in a trendy white Balenciaga puffer coat went viral. A cause of concern for the latest in AI is the spread of fake news and misinformation
A recent viral image of Catholic Pope Francis showed him in a trendy white Balenciaga puffer coat. The fake AI-generated image tricked a lot of people online.
Pablo Xavier, a 31-year-old construction worker from Chicago, created the image using the site Midjourney, reported BuzzFeed News. The artist, who refused to give his last name for fear of backlash, said he didn’t know it would go viral and didn’t mean any disrespect to the religious leader.
“I just thought it was funny to see the Pope in a funny jacket,” he told BuzzFeed.
The photo went viral hours after the artist posted it and picked up traffic into the weekend, primarily on Twitter and Reddit, per The Atlantic.
You probably saw on the news A.I. generations of Pope Francis wearing a white cozy jacket. I’d love to see your generations inspired by it.— Kris Kashtanova (@icreatelife) March 28, 2023
Here’s a prompt by the original creator Guerrero Art (Pablo Xavier):
Catholic Pope Francis wearing Balenciaga puffy jacket in drill rap… pic.twitter.com/5WA2UTYG7b
Pope Francis is known for being more liberal than his predecessors, which was the basis for some people on the internet, like Joel Golby from The Guardian, believing that the image was real in the first place.
“Here’s my first excuse: I don’t really know much about popes,” Golby wrote. “His holiness can be out there doing his things, and I can be over here doing mine, and our ecosystems never really cross.”
While a photo of the Pope wearing a questionable fashion choice for his position is fairly harmless, the problem is that AI can be used in political matters and spread harmful misinformation, pointed out The Boston Globe.
“Images created with generative AI can raise additional risks and concerns, beyond those associated with traditional images, such as: the spread of misinformation, damaging reputations, manipulation of public opinion, (and) undermining of trust in institutions,” Daniela Rus, the director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, told The Boston Globe.
Even Xavier the artist said that using public figures may be “the line,” reported BuzzFeed.
“As far as using it for regular images, if you want to do a Vincent van Gogh, I feel that kind of stuff is fine,” he continued. “Using it for public figures, that might be the line.”