AI-generated images are hard to tell apart from real photos and even tech giants like Google have trouble distinguishing them. In fact, Google Search has been showing misleading AI-generated images that are factually incorrect, as reported by Business Insider.
One such example would be the late Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, who was a Hawaiian singer known for playing a ukelele, but Google Search has been showing AI images of him playing guitar. This is a cause for concern since millions of people use Google for fact-checking and verifying information.
This was first spotted by Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who shared the screenshot on X (previously known as Twitter). He added: “Seriously, don’t trust anything you see online anymore. Faking stuff is trivial. You cannot tell the difference.”
It isn't just AI generated text that is starting to bleed over into search results.
The main image if you do a Google search for Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwoʻole (whose version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow you have probably hear) is a Midjourney creation right from Reddit. pic.twitter.com/VdZmuUAwCK
— Ethan Mollick (@emollick) November 27, 2023
Even at the time of writing, searching for Israel Kamakawiwoʻole shows his misleading AI-generated image at the top. The photo looks incredibly realistic and is an accurate depiction of the singer’s appearance, which makes it even more alarming as it would convince many.
This AI image was originally shared online in July this year on Reddit a community dedicated to the AI image-generating tool Midjourney. Despite the image’s appearance not generating much attention, with only nine comments and 90 upvotes, this event marked a noteworthy instance.
It’s worth noting that this occurrence isn’t the inaugural instance where Google has featured AI-generated images as prominent results on its search engine.
In September, 404 Media highlighted that an AI-generated image depicting the Tiananmen Square “tank man” took the top spot in Google’s search results. This image, originating from the Midjourney Reddit community, portrayed the “tank man” posing for a selfie in front of a tank.
Google later confirmed to 404 Media that it had promptly removed the AI-generated image from search results.
Furthermore, users searching for renowned artists Edward Hopper and Johannes Vermeer have encountered AI-generated images emerging as prominent results, as reported by the science media outlet Futurism.
In May, Google revealed plans to introduce a tool aimed at offering additional information about image search results, enhancing users’ ability to distinguish authentic images from fake ones.
Google is yet to respond to the instance of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s AI images.