Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
An AI-generated image of Pope Francis wearing a puffer jacket went viral on the internet in March 2023. Here’s everything you need to know about the Pope puffer jacket image and how it brought attention to the issue of AI-generated images.
Who Made The Pope Puffer Jacket Image?
The image was created by Pablo Xavier, a 31-year-old construction worker from Chicago. Xavier got the idea for the Pope Puffer Jacket image while tripping on psychedelic mushrooms.
“I’m trying to figure out ways to make something funny because that’s what I usually try to do,” Xavier explained to BuzzFeed News. “I try to do funny stuff or trippy art — psychedelic stuff. It just dawned on me: I should do the Pope. Then it was just coming like water: ‘The Pope in Balenciaga puffy coat, Moncler, walking the streets of Rome, Paris,’ stuff like that.”
How Was The Image Of Pope Francis Wearing A Puffer Jacket Created?
Xavier used the popular AI-image generation platform, MidJourney, to create the image of the Pope wearing a puffer jacket. Unlike other AI-image generator platforms, MidJourney is very good at creating very realistic images using minimal prompts.
How Did The Image Of Pope Francis Wearing A White Puffer Coat Go Viral?
Xavier shared his AI Pope images on both Facebook and Reddit. But the speed at which they were reshared across the Internet was shocking to Pablo. “I was just blown away,” he commented. “I didn’t want it to blow up like that.”
It didn’t take long for Xavier’s AI Pope puffer jacket images to start trending everywhere on the Internet. But the reasons the Pope puffer jacket went viral weren’t all positive. Some people shared the images out of awe and admiration. Others shared the images out of disgust. Many religious people from the Catholic faith felt that the images were blasphemous.
Within hours, Xavier was banned on Reddit. If you look at his original post on Reddit, the username name now says “deleted”.
The Pope AI Image Goes Viral
Reddit’s users then took Xavier’s AI Pope puffer jacket image and reshared it elsewhere on the Internet, including Twitter. But since most Twitter users are less savvy than Reddit users, many of them seemed to think the photo was real.
Far-right influencer Ian Miles Cheong, was one of the Twitter users who were easily fooled. He tweeted , “The Pope is a fashion icon. Respect the drip.”
Minor Internet celebrities like Chrissy Teigen were also easily duped. She failed to notice simple clues that the image was generated by artificial intelligence. The image clearly shows that the Pope is wearing a wedding ring and holding a can of beer.
“I thought the pope’s puffer jacket was real and didn’t give it a second thought,” Teigen tweeted. “no way am I surviving the future of technology.”
The Debate Over AI-Generated Images
But something good did come out of Xavier’s AI Pope puffer jacket photos: a debate. These AI-generated images of Pope Francis were so shockingly realistic, that they inspired commentary on the deceptive nature of AI-generated images.
For many, these fake images of the Pope helped prove how powerful and dangerous AI-generated images can be. Tools like MidJourney, Supermachine, or DALL-E can be used to create fake AI photos realistic enough to fool millions of people. When put into the wrong hands, these AI image generators can be used as dangerous propaganda tools.
Xavier understands this now. The controversy that he created from his fake AI Pope images helped him realize the danger of unregulated AI-generated images. “I didn’t even think about that,” he told BuzzFeed. “It’s definitely going to get serious if they don’t start implementing laws to regulate it.”
What do you think? Should AI be restricted, regulated, or banned? Let us know in the comments.