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A World of Pure Exaggeration

A World of Pure Exaggeration

March 7, 2024

A Willy Wonka-themed event that used AI-generated promotional images proved to be much less magical than advertised.

Fans of the beloved Roald Dahl book and movie adaptations starring Gene Wilder and Freddy Highmore were probably better off NOT receiving golden tickets ($44 each!) to this Glasgow, Scotland event advertised as an enchanting “chocolate experience.” The event’s website featured misleading pictures of colorful candy dreamscapes, all created using generative AI. Families attending the event instead found a sparsely decorated warehouse with a half-inflated bouncy castle.

Instead of a world of sweets and treats, attendees were reportedly rationed the not-so-scrumdiddlyumptious offering of a few jellybeans and half a cup of lemonade. There are photos taken by attendees available online that document the haphazardly organized and underwhelming event that also featured seemingly less-than-enthusiastic actors; most prominently featured online is a disgruntled-looking actor dressed as one of Wonka’s Oompa Loompa helpers. Like Veruca Salt, this event seems to have been a bad egg.

This event is an example of how AI-generated art can be used to create false impressions. With publicly available AI tools like DALL-E3, anyone can now have AI make images with nothing more than a few lines of text. For instance, a user can ask DALL-E3 to generate an image of Willy Wonka’s factory, and within a matter of seconds, they can have a colorful, candy-themed picture. The possibilities of this technology can be intriguing and may lead to many useful applications. However, they can be concerning when used to falsely advertise or misrepresent people and information.

There are some ways that you may be able to tell when an image is created with AI. Art that includes people with odd or anatomically incorrect hands may be one indicator. Misspelled or gibberish words within the art, like those seen in the Wonka event advertisement, are another way to tell when looking at some made by AI. These are not always surefire ways to tell, but they may help you recognize when you are looking at something that may be too good to be true or not so sweet.

If you are interested in learning more about how digital advancements are shaping our perceptions, relationships, and personal identities, join us on April 13 at Woodneath Library Center for Facing the Future, a series that brings experts from around the world to Mid-Continent Public Library to share forward-thinking insights on navigating the ever-changing landscape of emerging technologies.

By Brad Smith, Digital Innovation Department

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