Sometimes, smart people say really dumb things on the internet. I know I've done it (and will do it again) and so have you. It is a phenomenon that happens every day and it happened again earlier this week.
I'm talking about an opinion article in the Washington Post saying that Google was "destroying humanity" by telling us about its Pixel camera AI. It's just as preposterous as it sounds, filled with colorful language that entirely misses the point.
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It's not the first article that has a catchy/gotcha headline while missing the point about the subject either. We've all seen articles and social media posts saying things like the Pixel 8 AI is going to bring about some sort of digital apocalypse, written by people who seem to think these tools are magical zombies that can do things without being told.
I won't blame the authors completely. When it's your job to write something that stands out among the other eleventy-billion articles on the internet at any given time, it's easy to go too far. The writers knew criticism was coming and chose to go forward anyway, though.
What I will say is that the premise of blaming some software for anything is objectively dumb and a few minutes of thought should have made that apparent. AI or cameras or a phone isn't doing anything — people are.
The Pixel 8 can manipulate a photo
in ways never before seen the same way tools that have existed for years do. Joseph Stalin famously had the people he "removed" erased from photographs in the 1930s and he didn't even need a Pixel 8 to do it. People have been editing photos and sharing them long before it became easy.
Will the ability to make it easier to do bring about more internet trash to wade through? Maybe, but the one thing having an easy way to "fix" photos won't change is the people willing to lie about it.
On the flip side, having an easy way to edit a bad photo and make it worth saving is a great tool for normal, well-adjusted people who aren't out to spread political conspiracies or seek social media clout. You have the same choice you always had when it comes to being truthful. Buying the phone with the best camera doesn't decide who you are as a person.
It makes sense to edit some photos, and it makes the same amount of sense to not edit others. If I'm taking a photo of my family while we're together for the holidays, I want to be able to make sure everyone looks like they are happy and smiling. Nobody wants to keep a photo with one of the kids looking away or with grandpa's eyes closed, so software that can fix everything is a great tool.
Equally, a photo being used as evidence of something, no matter how minor it may be, should not be edited under any circumstances. If you have the desire to edit a photo so you can lie about anything, Google's AI didn't cause that. It's also something you can use plenty of other free software to do. Blaming Google or the Pixel for it is dumb. Writing articles that bame Google or a Pixel phone for it is even dumber.
I think every single person with the ability to use these tools also knows the difference between right and wrong. If not, we have bigger problems than Google's Magic Eraser to worry about.
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Yet...AC News said:Google's Pixel camera AI tools can't do anything without people tapping buttons and making decisions.
Google's Pixel camera AI isn't 'destroying humanity' or creating any sort of apocalypse : Read more
That's sarcasm, by the way. The thing I find scary is that everyone is worried that these tools are going to somehow gain consciousness and "go rogue" on us.But the reall threat, as always, is not the tool but the way people are going to abuse it.
Jerry, thanks for reminding us what we have and particularly about what is dumb and dumber!Reply