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Photographer refuses top award after revealing his winning entry was created by AI

David Murphy

The winner of one of the categories in the Sony World Photography Award competition has refused his prize, after revealing that his winning photograph was created by AI, the BBC reports.

Boris Eldagsen's entry, ‘Pseudomnesia: The Electrician’, showed two women from different generations, and won the Creative Open category in the competition, but Eldagsen now says he submitted the AI-created image in order to create a discussion around the future of photography. The award organisers told the BBC that Eldagsen had misled them about the extent to which AI would be involved in the creation of the image.

In a statement on his website, Eldagsen wrote:

“Thank you for selecting my image and making this a historic moment, as it is the first AI generated image to win in a prestigous international PHOTOGRAPHY (sic) competition.

“How many of you knew or suspected that it was AI generated? Something about this doesn’t feel right, does it?

“AI images and photography should not compete with eachother (sic) in an award like this. They are different entities. AI is not photography. Therefore I will not accept the award.

“I applied as a cheeky monkey, to find out, if the comeptitions (sic) are prepared for AI images to enter. They are not.

“We, the photo world, need an open discussion. A discussion about what we want to consider photography and what not. Is the umbrella of photography large enough to invite AI images to enter – or would this be a mistake?

“With my refusal of the award I hope to speed up this debate.”

He added that if the competition organisers did not know what to do with the prize, they should please donate it to the fotofestival in Odesa, Ukraine

Eldagsen’s refusal of the award comes as a song called ‘Heart On My Sleeve, that used AI to clone the voices of Drake and The Weeknd is going viral on social media. Posted on Friday, the song has so far clocked up more than 9m views on TikTok and been played almost 254,000 times on Spotify.