DALL-E, Stable Diffusion… the artificial intelligences capable of generating images are exploited in a fun way by many people. Useful for creating fake content, they could also become problematic, especially for mental health.
Social networks allow users, in particular influencers, influencers and celebrities, to show a false version of their life, or at least a reworked, retouched, “glamorized” version. They can display themselves in their best light, thus making people envious, or show themselves in tears in order to attract attention – a trend known as sadfishing. If these platforms are already worrying about the mental health of users, especially young people, another way can be used to create a “false life” on the Internet: artificial intelligence (IA). This also comes with health effects, and not just on the side of the people exposed to these AI-generated posts.
Between fake images and fake life created by AI
In recent months, artificial intelligence has often been talked about with systems capable of generating images from a textual description. SLAB, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion… Several AIs of this type exist and are accessible to the public, and some even allow faces to be modified. They are also used by applications to transform photos of individuals. Lensa and AI Picture both use Stable Diffusion for this. With the first, it is among other things possible to apply filters and special effects to photos, but also to transform them into artistic avatars. The second allows you to obtain images adapted to the criteria of platforms such as LinkedIn or Tinder and even to generate photos of yourself appearing alongside celebrities or in films.
If it is already possible to present a false self-image with these applications, an American has gone further with Stable Diffusion. Producer, Kyle Vorbach indeed deceived those around him for a month by generating fake photos using this AI and posting them on his social networks. “You know how people on social media create these characters to look happy or cool or whatever? All my posts lately, it’s not the real me (…) it’s not even a photo. The truth is, every photo I’ve posted in the last month has been AI generated”he reveals to his entourage in a video published recently and in which he explains how he proceeded.
It all started in October, when he wanted to have a new profile picture. To get it, he used images of himself and paired his query with actor Ryan Gosling, with the AI apparently producing better results by including a celebrity you look like in the process. This allowed him to have one of his best photos without having to leave his room. From there, he posted other fake images, including making it look like he had been to New York and bumped into a friend there. He then went further by generating a fake life where he moves back to Los Angeles, lives in a nice apartment and where his career finally takes off. And everyone around him believed it.
Beware of mental health
These AIs and applications allow their users to create a false image of themselves or to invent a false life, but they are also problematic. To begin with, they modify the physique – of users in particular – by generating images corresponding to ideals of beauty or by sexualizing them. With Lensa for example, of women saw their double chin disappear, their size to be refined and their breasts inflated. Women of color have also claimed that their skin tone has been whitened by the application. Lensa also tends to strip female users, especially Asians. This, while social networks already push individuals, especially young people, to compare their physique to those of others by overexposing them to apparently ideal bodies and lives, harming their mental health.
These fake image-generating AIs and applications can also affect the mental health of their users, as the American producer explains in his video. “When I started this project, it was for fun, but it’s a lot of work: sifting through thousands of images all day and night to fix the idea that a machine is of your face until you don’t even know what you look like”says Kyle Vorbach.
Like many users of social networks, he has also been a victim of the psychological effect of likes, which make us addicted to this feeling of happiness or pleasure that we feel when we get them. “Every time I got a ‘like’ on a photo, I felt those endorphins like it was me, like someone I know liked a picture of me”, he explains, adding that he no longer knew where the real him stopped and where his fake persona began. While these AIs capable of generating images are used in particular in a fun way, there is cause for concern.
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After real fake lives on social networks, make way for fake lives thanks to AI?
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