Fred Ritchin: Challenges and Possibilities of the Digital and AI Revolution – Published by Hot Mirror
HM: You’ve been working on efforts to establish more the line between AI and actual photographs. You’ve created an organization working on that.
FR: Recently we did the Writing with Light campaign with World Press Photo, Magnum Photos, National Press Photographers Association, and others. What we’re saying is, you can’t trust the camera, it’s no more reliable than a pen or a typewriter or a computer for a writer. You have to trust the photographer as the author, that what he or she is photographing is not heavily manipulated, synthetic, or distorted in any substantial way. That’s where our effort has gone.
There are other efforts to put watermarks on pictures, such as that the camera has a cryptographic signature on it — where and when it was taken, any changes made to the image. But to me, if you start registering any changes to an image then you’re giving the reader potentially the right to keep clicking and find every change you made to an image. As a writer, if I do an interview, I’m not going to allow a reader to click and see the entire transcript. You have to trust the integrity of the writer, the editor, the editorial process.
I think these kinds of cryptographic safeguards, for insurance purposes, forensic purposes, can be very useful. For editors, it can be very reassuring to see that somebody’s GPS says they were in the place they said they were, and so on. But I think above all, we really have to be able to trust the human being, the photographer, to do the right thing.
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