Northern Ireland news

AI-created 'Pope in puffa jacket' image goes viral online

A picture of Pope Francis in a stylish silver puffa jacket that has been shared widely online was generated by artificial intelligence program Midjourney
Paul Ainsworth

AN image of Pope Francis wearing a puffa-style jacket created by an artificial intelligence (AI) program has gone viral online after fooling some users into believing it was real.

The picture shows the 86-year-old pontiff wearing the silver jacket while sporting a crucifix and carrying a coffee mug.

However, despite its highly realistic look, the image was entirely created by artificial intelligence software that can be easily accessed online, allowing users to create pictures by imputing prompts for the program to follow.

The image first appeared on the website reddit, in a sub-forum dedicated to pictures developed through Midjourney, an AI program developed by a San Francisco-based firm, Midjourney Inc.

The picture was shared on social media sites including Twitter, where some users added joking captions including 'Priest 17', referring to the puffa-jackets worn by 90s boyband East 17 in their famous Christmas Number One song 'Stay Another Day'.

Meanwhile, it prompted commentary elsewhere, including by Guardian columnist Joel Golby, on how the advance of AI-created imagery is causing concern over trusting the validity of any picture in a media context.

Northern Ireland news