AI-Generated Image Controversy Sparks Ethical Questions for News Organizations


  • A news broadcast’s use of AI to manipulate an MP’s image sparks ethical concerns in journalism, leading to questions about the technology’s oversight.
  • Adobe’s Photoshop AI function was blamed for the image alterations, but human involvement and regulation are questioned.
  • This incident highlights the need for responsible AI use in the media, as governments work on standards while maintaining trust between publishers and audiences remains crucial.

News organizations find themselves grappling with ethical questions following an incident in which a member of parliament’s image was inappropriately manipulated using AI technology. Victorian Animal Justice Party MP Georgie Purcell was taken aback when a Nine News report featured her with digitally altered features, raising concerns about the boundaries of AI use in journalism.

Georgie Purcell’s shock came as she watched a Nine News report on the state’s decision to permit duck hunting. In the report, her image was subjected to unauthorized changes, including enlarged breasts and a dress turned into a crop top. Nine News later issued an apology, attributing the image manipulation to an automation function in Adobe’s Photoshop program while resizing an online-sourced photo. Adobe clarified that human intervention and approval were necessary for such alterations, raising questions about the accuracy of the explanation. Here is the official Adobe statement sent to Cryptopolitan:

Adobe is committed to ensuring our technology is developed in line with our AI ethics principles of accountability, responsibility, and transparency and respects our customers and communities. We are working with customers and partners to enable content credentials – which are “nutrition labels” for digital content, that remain associated with content wherever it is used, published, or stored. Edits to this specific image would have required human intervention and approval.

Adobe Digital Media Press team

German Version:

Adobe setzt sich dafür ein, dass unsere Technologie im Einklang mit unseren ethischen Grundsätzen für künstliche Intelligenz (KI) hinsichtlich Haftung, Verantwortung und Transparenz entwickelt wird sowie unsere Kund*innen und die Gesellschaft respektiert. Wir arbeiten mit Kund*innen und Partner*innen zusammen, um sogenannte “Content Credentials” zu etablieren. Hierbei handelt es sich um eine Art “Nährwertangabe” für digitale Inhalte, die mit den Inhalten verknüpft bleibt, unabhängig davon, wo diese eingesetzt, veröffentlicht oder gespeichert werden.

Adobe Presseteam

AI’s rapid advancements

Georgie Purcell’s experience has ignited discussions about the ethical implications of AI technology in journalism. She expressed concerns that AI is progressing at a pace that is outstripping the development of relevant laws. Her sentiments resonate with many who are now contemplating the need for updated regulations to address the use of AI in various industries, including media.

Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic acknowledged the need for swift action, emphasizing that the federal government is actively working towards setting standards for the responsible and safe use of AI. He labeled the incident a wake-up call for businesses, urging them to uphold higher ethical standards when employing AI technology.

The incident highlighted the challenges news organizations face as they navigate integrating AI technology into journalism. Senior RMIT University media lecturer TJ Thomson pointed out that journalism without human oversight raises ethical concerns. He referred to the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance’s code of ethics, emphasizing the importance of presenting accurate images and disclosing any manipulations that could mislead the audience.

News organizations worldwide are grappling with the need to develop clear policies on generative AI and actively seeking best-practice guidance. Ensuring responsible AI usage is particularly critical in 2024, as many countries will be holding elections, where the credibility and integrity of news reporting play a crucial role.

Prior instances of AI-generated images

This incident is not the first time media companies have used AI-generated images. In September, the Australian Financial Review made headlines for using AI-generated portraits, which received mixed reviews, with some pointing out discrepancies in the quality of the generated images. Additionally, there has been a growing concern about the proliferation of fake, sexually-explicit images of celebrities online, highlighting the challenges posed by AI-driven content generation.

While image manipulation is not a novel concept, advancements in AI technology have made it more effective and realistic. Monash University data scientist Geoffrey Webb explained that older technologies, like airbrushing, were used to alter images, but modern AI can achieve these modifications with greater precision and accuracy.

The incident involving the inappropriate use of AI imagery in news reporting serves as a stark reminder of the ethical questions posed by the rapid advancement of technology. News organizations are grappling with the need to balance leveraging AI for efficiency and ensuring responsible and ethical usage. As discussions continue, transparency, accountability, and adherence to ethical guidelines remain paramount in the evolving landscape of journalism and AI integration.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Brenda Kanana

Brenda Kanana is an accomplished and passionate writer specializing in the fascinating world of cryptocurrencies, Blockchain, NFT, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). With a profound understanding of blockchain technology and its implications, she is dedicated to demystifying complex concepts and delivering valuable insights to readers.

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