With smartphones at everyone’s disposal, on-the-go digital modifications to enhance photos are ubiquitous. These range from minor adjustments in color intensity to light balance. However, artificial intelligence (AI) has introduced a new dimension to the concept of capturing reality in photographs.
Google’s Advanced Features:
The recently released Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro by Google surpass the offerings of competitors. Google’s advanced AI enables the alteration of facial expressions in photographs. A common situation, where a person in a group picture either looks away or doesn’t smile, can now be rectified using Google’s “Best Take” feature. This tool scans your photos, picks out previous facial expressions, and can replace the undesirable expression with a preferable one from a different photo.
Moreover, the “Magic Editor” feature enables users to delete, relocate, or resize any undesired components of a photo, such as a structure or a person. Using deep learning, this AI figures out the appropriate textures to replace the void created by the removal by examining the neighboring pixels and drawing from its database of millions of photos.
Notably, the Magic Editor and Best Take are not confined to photos captured on the device. Using the Pixel 8 Pro, one can employ these features on any images stored in their Google Photos library.
This technological leap has instigated discussions on the ethical side of photography. Comments from various tech analysts ranged from “icky” and “creepy” to concerns about eroding the already wobbly trust in online content. Andrew Pearsall, a seasoned photographer and a senior journalism lecturer at the University of South Wales, opined on the potential hazards of AI manipulation. He cautioned on the looming danger of crossing ethical boundaries, emphasizing the shift towards a potentially “fake world” that the technology could usher in.
Google’s Isaac Reynolds, responsible for the development of the firm’s smartphone camera systems, stated in a discussion with the BBC that Google takes the moral implications of its consumer tech very seriously. He emphasized that features like Best Take were not fabricating reality.
As AI continues to permeate the realm of photography, the line between capturing reality and constructing a version of it may become increasingly blurred. While advancements like those in the Pixel 8 provide exciting possibilities, they also reinforce the need for a collective introspection about the ethical implications of technological advancement in image capture and manipulation.