Humans beat out robots in photo contest

Keith Costelo and his winning photo | Keith Costello

In what may be the first competition of its kind, humans have triumphed over machines in a photography competition.

AI-generated images were submitted alongside real images, and a panel of photography experts judged all the submissions blind – without knowing which image was synthetic and which image was made on a camera’s sensor.

digiDirect, an Australian electronics company, ran the competition after it was previously fooled by an AI image, awarding it first place in a photo contest last month.

“What a victory for the humans,” writes digiDirect when it awarded photographer Keith Costelo first place in the “Humans vs Machine” competition for his image of a futuristic-looking model ironically portrayed as half-robot.

“While technology continues to advance and push the boundaries of what is possible in photography, there is still something very special and irreplaceable about the human eye and the creative choices we make,” says triumphant photographer Costelo.

“Winning this competition has only strengthened my belief in the power of human artistry and the importance of preserving the authenticity and emotional depth that can only be captured through the lens of a human photographer.”

Open to photographers and AI creators, the competition received a record 415 entries and the winner was decided by six respected Australian photographers who did not know whether the images they were judging were AI or real.

“We feel uniquely positioned to invite both photographers and AI creators to a unique competition to settle the Man V Machine or Photo V Image debate,” says digiDirect general manager Haig Kayserian

The AI ​​photo that won a photo contest

Karserian is right when he says his company is well-placed to host the humans vs. machines contest after digiDirect awarded an AI image of two surfers paddling out to sea first place in a summer-themed photo contest.

The controversy made headlines around the world after Absolutely Ai, the company behind the photo, immediately admitted its fraud and declared it “the world’s first AI-generated award-winning photograph.”

AI image of two surfers at sunrise
This AI image won a photo contest | Absolutely Ai

“We did it to prove that we are at a tipping point with artificial intelligence technology by passing the ultimate test,” Absolutely Ai said at the time.

“We are beginning to discover the true potential of AI to improve not only the way we do business, but also the way we interact in the world,” says digiDirect’s Kayserian

“It still lacks the intuitive insight and emotional depth that can only be provided by a human photographer. Capturing a moment through a camera lens will always be an art form that requires skill and expertise, and instead of competing, AI can be used as a complementary tool.”

In the United States, the American Chamber of Commerce has called for regulation of artificial intelligence. The business lobby broke from its traditionally anti-regulatory stance to warn that the AI ​​industry could “harm the economy, potentially diminish individual rights and limit the development and adoption of beneficial technologies.”

More of Costelo’s work can be seen on his Instagram page.

Image credit: Feature photo by Keith Cotelo

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