Amazon and Other Big Advertising Companies Are Legitimizing Lies with Generative Imagery ⇥ nymag.com
John Herrman, New York:
But it’s worth paying attention to which, and whose, problems these companies are trying to solve with AI. Amazon is attempting to address an issue for sellers and for its own advertising business: Clickable “lifestyle” ad imagery is expensive to hire for and difficult to shoot yourself, so a lot of sellers advertise with less-clickable materials. In the process of addressing this problem for its sellers, and attempting to automate certain kinds of product photography, Amazon ended up creating a tool that automates the (low-stakes, slight, and frankly sort of surreal) deception of customers by sellers. […]
Frequent readers have likely noticed several of the underlying principles and understandings which form the basis for my commentary: privacy is a right; it is good to be skeptical of expressions of power by governments and corporations alike; products and services should be respectful of users. That kind of thing. Here is another one: we should have higher standards and expect more.
In this case, we should demand advertising to be an honest and true representation. As Herrman notes, it is not like these generative imagery tools have invented deceptive ads; if anything, they continue an industry tradition. But the lack of newness is not an excuse. The businesses that are involved in advertising at any level must demand a basic level of authenticity, and it is revolting that powerful corporations seem to think they can help tell lies without consequence. I do not see how or why this would be controversial. Better is possible if we demand it.