Real image won in an AI photo competition

Real image wins in AI photo competition

/ 07:54 AM June 24, 2024

Artificial intelligence seems to dominate every facet of our lives each day. However, a photographer named Miles Astray scored a win for humanity by winning an AI photo competition with a real image. 

He took an image of a flamingo without its head and got the 1839 Awards’ People’s Vote Award. Astray says he meant to send a message regarding human creativity with this stunt. 

READ: AI scientist facilitates research in multiple fields

Unfortunately, Astray told Scientific American that he earned a disqualification for his unique submission. He also discussed some of his opinions regarding the future of art and AI.


Why submit a real image in an AI-only contest?

The 38-year-old photographer and writer told the educational publication Scientific American that his flamingo picture looked “surreal” enough to look AI-generated. 

The pink bird scratched its belly while he was taking the photo, obscuring its head and neck. Consequently, the avian looked like a brain with legs.

“Okay, this could really be mistaken for an AI-generated picture,” the photographer thought. However, he had to wait a while for an AI image competition to occur.

Eventually, the 1839 Awards opened for submissions this year. The official website says the Creative Resource Collective established it in 2020 to provide “resources, recognition, exposure, and community for photographers around the world.”


Astray submitted his real image with the title “F L A M I N G O N E” in the People’s Vote Award’s AI category. He told Scientific American he hoped to win and send a message. 

He wanted the judges to see nature still beats machines in depicting creativity and beauty. Still, Astray slightly regretted fooling the judges and audiences. 


The organizers disqualified the real image, which the photographer accepted as a fair decision. Fortunately, Lily Fierman, the co-founder of the 1839 Awards, appreciated his message. 

She sent an email to Scientific American with the following message: 

“We fully appreciate the powerful message Miles relayed with his submission. We agree that it is an important, relevant, and timely statement.”

However, the photographer admits that AI will only continue to improve until its creations are indistinguishable from reality. 

That is why companies and governments must help people discern real images from AI-generated ones. More importantly, everyone must be responsible in examining things.

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“I’m not demonizing the technology—it has great potential. I firmly believe that technology itself is not inherently good or bad.”

TOPICS: AI, technology
TAGS: AI, technology

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