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DigiDirect ups the stakes to AI generators

DigiDirect is challenging AI image aficionados to enter computer-generated pictures into a new contest judged by photo experts, to ‘up the stakes’ after an AI image won its Weekly Photo Contest.This image won DigiDirect's Weekly Photo Contest. Upon further observation, it's clearly not a 'real' photo.

The Australian photo retailer embarrassingly picked an image generated by Sydney-based AI image agency, Absolutely.AI. The agency used the win to generate publicity, and made some bold claims that this potentially marks a ‘turning point’ where AI art is better than human made.

Here’s an excerpt of our coverage:

It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’ve reached the point where machine is now the superior artist to man,’ Absolutely AI founder, Jamie Sissons, wrote in the Instagram post. ‘History may look back on our little photography experiment as a turning point when we started to notice the new world we’re living in.’

The agency describes entering the contest as a test to prove that ‘an AI generated image [could] not only slip by unnoticed (not one person who has seen the image has sensed anything out of the ordinary) but actually be awarded the top prize by a photography expert?’

Although AI fans might want to save the champagne for another ‘turning point’ event. The digiDirect Weekly Photo Contest is a minor promotion that’s designed to engage with customers. The weekly winner is awarded a $100 voucher. It’s unlikely a ‘true’ photography expert is judging the contest – it’s obvious when looking at Absolutley AI’s picture. There are clear rendering mistakes that wouldn’t appear in reality. So Absolutely AI is drawing a long bow to claim this is a big deal.

In its statement published on Instagram, digiDirect also downplays the significance of the win.

‘The company which created the image, also released a statement owning their exploits in submitting the graphic to the competition, explaining that it was “to prove that we’re at a turning point with artificially intelligent technology by passing the ultimate test”.

‘Firstly, we must congratulate for the deserved publicity cleverly generated for their business, and while we are humbled our photo competition was their “ultimate test”, digiDirect is about to increase the stakes to ensure the Man V Machine, or Photo V Image debate is settled on a more level playing field.

‘At digiDirect, we feel uniquely positioned to invite both photographers and artificial intelligence creators to a unique competition to settle the Man V Machine. From 20th February 2023, participants will be asked to submit their photos or images to our new competition. An expert panel of photographers will judge the submissions without knowledge of whether they are created by humans or artificially generated.’

DigiDirect looks to be saving face, and turning a humiliating event into a marketing stunt of its own. DigiDirect’s statement appears in a paid ‘Sponsored’ Instagram post, meaning digiDirect has forked out to make the announcement appear in front of a larger audience.

Sisson, Absolutely AI founder, stated he welcomes ‘the inclusion of new AI categories into photography competitions’.

‘We sympathise with the traditional photography competition organisers who are having to adapt to this new technology. Hopefully everyone can work together to create an inclusive environment where the traditional and new art forms can both thrive side by side. We look forward to entering into the new DigiDirect competition and wholeheartedly welcome the addition of an exciting new category that embraces AI technology.’

The retailer apologised to photographers who entered a photo contest that crowned a fake, and accepts full responsibility. In the future victors will be required to submit their RAW image to reveal whether the image is genuine. The winner will be awarded a $1,000 digiDirect gift card.

We’ll update this article on February 20 with digiDirect’s AI/Photo contest details.


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