Samsung exec discusses camera AI, says there is no real picture

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Last year, Samsung landed into a controversy after the Galaxy S23 Ultra was found to be faking Moon shots. The phone captured non-existent details on a blurry photo of the Moon shown on a monitor. The firm explained this as AI enhancement of images. Now, amid talks about the Galaxy S24’s AI-powered Generative Edit feature, a company executive said that every photo is fake. “There is no such thing as a real picture,” Samsung EVP Patrick Chomet said.

Samsung executive says there are no real pictures in the age of AI

Smartphone cameras have gotten better with each new generation. However, the camera hardware isn’t the real deal. It is the software processing that helps achieve photographic perfection. Phones use various technologies to enhance the details in images and improve the quality of the output. Multi-frame capture techniques reduce noise in photos while improving the brightness, white balance, dynamic range, and other parameters.

Mobile devices also boast scene AI-powered recognition technologies. They can recognize scenes in the frame and adjust everything from colors and contrast to skin tones and textures to give you the best results. In a sense, the photos you get aren’t a true representation of what you see. Advanced software algorithms and AI play a big part in enhancing the quality and making images look more attractive than what the camera hardware captures.

Patrick Chomet talked about the use of AI-powered camera tools in a recent interview with TechRadar. He started with last year’s controversy, referring to a video from YouTuber Marques Brownlee, aka MKBHD. “There was a very nice video by Marques Brownlee last year on the moon picture. Everyone was like, ‘Is it fake? Is it not fake?’ There was a debate around what constitutes a real picture. And actually, there is no such thing as a real picture.”

Chomet, who is Samsung’s Head of Customer Experience, added that “as soon as you have sensors to capture something, you reproduce [what you’re seeing], and it doesn’t mean anything.” He reiterated that there is no real picture. “You can try to define a real picture by saying, ‘I took that picture’, but if you used AI to optimize the zoom, the autofocus, the scene – is it real? Or is it all filters? There is no real picture, full stop.”

Galaxy S24’s Generative Edit is a way to create a new reality

The Samsung executive also talked about Generative Edit. It is a suite of AI tools that allow Galaxy users to artificially enhance images by erasing imperfections or recomposing a scene by adding non-existent details. So, not only do you have real-time optimization of the scene, but also the ability to further refine the output later. Chomet says all of this is necessary in today’s world where people have created a new reality on social media.

“When people go on Instagram, they add a bunch of funky black and white stuff – they create a new reality. Their intention isn’t to recreate reality, it’s to make something new. So [Generative Edit] isn’t a totally new idea. Generative AI tools will accelerate that intention exponentially in the next few years,” he said. “There is a big customer need to distinguish between the real and the new,” the Samsung SVP added.

To that end, Samsung’s Generative Edit feature automatically adds a watermark to the images you edit or generate using AI. It also edits the metadata of the image. Chomet said the company is “working with regulatory bodies to ensure people understand the difference” and is “very aligned with European regulations on AI.” The Samsung official noted that governments are right to express concerns about the potential dangers of AI.

“The industry needs to be responsible and it needs to be regulated,” he said, adding that Samsung is actively helping regulators with that. “Our new technology is amazing and powerful – but like anything, it can be used in good and bad ways. So, it’s appropriate to think deeply about the bad ways.” Samsung plans to roll out the new AI features to over 100 million Galaxy devices this year.

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