Sony World Photography Awards 2023, winner decline award: AI-generated photo

A story that brings with it two new implications. There is a winner who refuses recognition and a photo that is not one. In fact, the image that won first prize in the “Creative” category of the Sony World Photography Awards, one of the most famous competitions in the sector, was generated by an artificial intelligence. For this reason Boris Eldagsen, author of the work, refused the award. “The Electrician is a sequence of shots “co-produced by means of AI generative images” with which Eldagsen wanted to reflect on the intrinsic concept of photography generated by a machine. However, Eldagsen’s victory has sparked a debate, both in the press and on social networks, because the photograph was not actually taken by the photographer with a camera, but generated with Stable Diffusion, one of the most advanced technologies based on artificial intelligence , which creates images from a command written by a human.

AI images and photography shouldn’t compete

It is Eldagsen himself who refused the prize that had been awarded to him, sharing an article on his blog where he explained the reason for this choice. “Thank you for selecting my image and making this a historic moment, as it is the first AI-generated image to win in a prestigious international photography competition,” wrote the artist. How many of you knew or suspected that it was generated by AI? Something doesn’t add up, right? AI images and photography shouldn’t be competing with each other in an award like this. They are different entities. Artificial intelligence is not photography. Therefore I will not accept the prize”. Boris Eldagsen with his participation wanted to push the organizers of the competitions to reflect on the fact that a photograph generated by an AI should never (or almost) compete with one taken by a human being and wanted to “find out if the competitions are prepared for the ‘AI image entry’. But apparently they’re not, according to Eldagsen. The competition’s official website has removed the image of the winning entry as well as any references to the artist, but there’s no statement yet to about.