Google’s Gemini will be right back after these hallucinations: image generator to make a return after historical blunders

Google is gearing up to relaunch its image creation tool that’s part of the newly-rebranded generative artificial intelligence (AI) bot, Gemini, in the next few weeks. The generative AI image creation tool is in theory capable of generating almost anything you can dream up and put into words as a prompt, but “almost” is the key word here. 

Google has pumped the brakes on Gemini’s image generation after Gemini was observed creating historical depictions and other questionable images that were considered inaccurate or offensive. However, it looks like Gemini could return to image generation soon, as Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis announced that Gemini will be rebooted in the coming week after taking time to address these issues. 

Image generation came to Gemini earlier in February, and users were keen to test its abelites. Some people attempted to generate images depicting a certain historical period that appeared to greatly deviate from accepted historical fact. Some of these users took to social media to share their results and direct criticism at Google. 

The images caught many people’s attention and sparked many conversations, and Google has recognized the images as a symptom of a problem within Gemini. The tech giant then chose to take the feature offline and fix whatever was causing the model to dream up such strange and controversial pictures. 

Hassabis confirmed that Gemini was not working as intended, and that it would take some weeks to amend it, and bring it back online while speaking at a panel taking place at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona

Person using a laptop in a coffeeshop

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If at first, your generative AI bot doesn't succeed…

Google’s first attempt at a generative AI chatbot was Bard, which saw a lukewarm reception and didn’t win users over from the more popular ChatGPT in the way Google had hoped, after which it changed course and debuted its revamped and rebranded family of generative models, Gemini. Like ChatGPT, Google is now offering a premium-tier for Gemini, which offers advanced features for a subscription. 

The examples of Gemini's misadventures have also reignited discussions about AI ethics generally, and Google’s AI ethics specifically, and around issues like the accuracy of generated AI output and AI hallucinations. Companies like Microsoft and Google are pushing ahead to win the AI assistant arms race, but while racing ahead, they’re in danger of releasing products with flaws that could undermine their hard work.

AI-generated content is becoming increasingly popular and, especially due to their size and resources, these companies can (and really, should) be held to a high standard of accuracy. High profile fails like the one Gemini experienced aren’t just embarrassing for Google – it could damage the product’s perception in the eyes of consumers. There’s a reason Google rebranded Bard after its much-mocked debut.

There’s no doubt that AI is incredibly exciting, but Google and its peers should be mindful that rushing out half-baked products just to get ahead of the competition could spectacularly backfire.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Google explains how Gemini’s AI image generation went wrong, and how it’ll fix it

A few weeks ago Google launched a new image generation tool for Gemini (the suite of AI tools formerly known as Bard and Duet) which allowed users to generate all sorts of images from simple text prompts. Unfortunately, Google’s AI tool repeatedly missed the mark and generated inaccurate and even offensive images that led a lot of us to wonder – how did the bot get things so wrong? Well, the company has finally released a statement explaining what went wrong, and how it plans to fix Gemini. 

The official blog post addressing the issue states that when designing the text-to-image feature for Gemini, the team behind Gemini wanted to “ensure it doesn’t fall into some of the traps we’ve seen in the past with image generation technology — such as creating violent or sexually explicit images, or depictions of real people.” The post further explains that users probably don’t want to keep seeing people of just one ethnicity or other prominent characteristic. 

So, to offer a pretty basic explanation for what’s been going on: Gemini has been throwing up images of people of color when prompted to generate images of white historical figures, giving users ‘diverse Nazis’, or simply ignoring the part of your prompt where you’ve specified exactly what you’re looking for. While Gemini’s image capabilities are currently on hold, when you could access the feature you’d specify exactly who you’re trying to generate – Google uses the example “a white veterinarian with a dog” – and Gemini would seemingly ignore the first half of that prompt and generate veterinarians of all races except the one you asked for. 

Google went on to explain that this was the outcome of two crucial failings – firstly, Gemini was showing a range of different people without considering a range not to show. Alongside that, in trying to make a more conscious, less biased generative AI, Google admits the “model became way more cautious than we intended and refused to answer certain prompts entirely – wrongly interpreting some very anodyne prompts as sensitive.”

So, what's next?

At the time of writing, the ability to generate images of people on Gemini has been paused while the Gemini team works to fix the inaccuracies and carry out further testing. The blog post notes that AI ‘hallucinations’ are nothing new when it comes to complex deep learning models – even Bard and ChatGPT had some questionable tantrums as the creators of those bots worked out the kinks. 

The post ends with a promise from Google to keep working on Gemini’s AI-powered people generation until everything is sorted, with the note that while the team can’t promise it won’t ever generate “embarrassing, inaccurate or offensive results”, action is being taken to make sure it happens as little as possible. 

All in all, this whole episode puts into perspective that AI is only as smart as we make it. Our editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff succinctly noted that “When an AI doesn't know history, you can't blame the AI.” With how quickly artificial intelligence has swooped in and crammed itself into various facets of our daily lives – whether we want it or not – it’s easy to forget that the public proliferation of AI started just 18 months ago. As impressive as the tools currently available to us are, we’re ultimately still in the early days of artificial intelligence. 

We can’t rain on Google Gemini’s parade just because the mistakes were more visually striking than say, ChatGPT’s recent gibberish-filled meltdown. Google’s temporary pause and reworking will ultimately lead to a better product, and sooner or later we’ll see the tool as it was meant to be. 

You might also like…

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Google Bard finally gets a free AI image generator – here’s how to try it

Considering how popular image generating is right now, Google Bard’s recent update that adds AI image generation seems all but inevitable.

According to the official Google Bard update page, using the tool is quite simple. You can activate the AI image generator by simply entering “a few words” into the search bar, “starting with English prompts.” Then you “click ‘Generate more’ for more options and download the ones you like.”

Those generated images are stored in pinned chats, recent chats, and Bard Activity, and can be deleted from your Bard Activity by deleting the prompt that generated them.

Bard’s image generation is powered by its updated Imagen 2 model, which is meant to balance speed with quality to deliver photorealistic images. The new feature is available worldwide including in the US, except in the following regions/countries: European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, and the UK. It’s also only available in English and only to those 18 and above, though how Google would enforce the age restriction beyond a generic ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question is unclear.

In terms of responsibility, Google states in its official blog that “Bard uses SynthID to embed digitally identifiable watermarks into the pixels of generated images,” which makes its AI-generated images distinct from works created by humans. Most likely this feature was developed to prevent people from using generated images for commercial use, which tracks since that would open up a legal can of worms.

Google also asserts that it seeks to limit violent, offensive, or sexual content from the training data, as well as applying filters to prevent named people from being involved in image generation. 

Bard with Gemini Pro will also be enhanced with this new update. The update page states that “Bard will be far more capable at things like understanding, summarising, reasoning, brainstorming, writing, and planning.” This upgrade to Bard’s AI is most likely what allowed Google to offer the free AI image generator tool in the first place, along with the support.

Google Bard Image Generation

We created the first two images with a simple prompt and clicked “Generate more” to see the second two. (Image credit: Future)

Google Bard is taking over 

Google has been going all in with its Bard AI, even using it to slowly replace Google Assistant, which was the tech giant’s previous answer to Apple’s Siri. It was discovered that Google changed the greeting pop-up for various devices from ‘I’m Assistant with Bard’ to simply ‘I’m Bard.’

It was also announced that Google would be removing 17 features from Assistant in the coming weeks, including playing audiobooks on Google Play Books through voice command and asking for information about your contacts. The official announcement even implied that more features would be removed.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

This scary AI breakthrough means you can run but not hide – how AI can guess your location from a single image

There’s no question that artificial intelligence (AI) is in the process of upending society, with ChatGPT and its rivals already changing the way we live our lives. But a new AI project has just emerged that can pinpoint the location of where almost any photo was taken – and it has the potential to become a privacy nightmare.

The project, dubbed Predicting Image Geolocations (or PIGEON for short) was created by three students at Stanford University and was designed to help find where images from Google Street View were taken. But when fed personal photos it had never seen before, it was even able to accurately find their locations, usually with a high degree of accuracy.

Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union says that has serious privacy implications, including government surveillance, corporate tracking and stalking, according to NPR. For instance, a government could use PIGEON to find dissidents or see whether you have visited places it disapproves of. Or a stalker could employ it to work out where a potential victim lives. In the wrong hands, this kind of tech could wreak havoc.

Motivated by those concerns, the student creators have decided against releasing the tech to the wider world. But as Stanley points out, that might not be the end of the matter: “The fact that this was done as a student project makes you wonder what could be done by, for example, Google.”

A double-edged sword

Google Maps

(Image credit: Google)

Before we start getting the pitchforks ready, it’s worth remembering that this technology might also have a range of positive uses, if deployed responsibly. For instance, it could be used to identify places in need of roadworks or other maintenance. Or it could help you plan a holiday: where in the world could you go to see landscapes like those in your photos? There are other uses, too, from education to monitoring biodiversity.

Like many recent advances in AI, it’s a double-edged sword. Generative AI can be used to help a programmer debug code to great effect, but could also be used by a hacker to refine their malware. It could help you drum up ideas for a novel, but might assist someone who wants to cheat on their college coursework.

But anything that helps identify a person’s location in this way could be extremely problematic in terms of personal privacy – and have big ramifications for social media. As Stanley argued, it’s long been possible to remove geolocation data from photos before you upload them. Now, that might not matter anymore.

What’s clear is that some sort of regulation is desperately needed to prevent wider abuses, while the companies making AI tech must work to prevent damage caused by their products. Until that happens, it’s likely we’ll continue to see concerns raised over AI and its abilities.

You might also like

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

Microsoft reins in Bing AI’s Image Creator – and the results don’t make much sense

You may have noticed that Bing AI got a big upgrade for its image creation tool last week (among other recent improvements), but it appears that after having taken this sizeable step forward, Microsoft has now taken a step back.

In case you missed it, Bing’s image creation system was upgraded to a whole new version – Dall-E 3 – which is much more powerful. So much so that Microsoft noted the supercharged Dall-E 3 was generating a lot of interest and traffic, and so might be sluggish initially.

There’s another issue with Dall-E 3 though, because as Windows Central observed, Microsoft has considerably reined in the tool since its recent revamp.

Now, we were already made aware that the image creation tool would employ a ‘content moderation system’ to stop inappropriate pics being generated, but it seems the censorship imposed is harsher than expected. This might be a reaction to the kind of content Bing AI users have been trying to get the system to create.

As Windows Central points out, there has been a lot of controversy about an image created of Mickey Mouse carrying out the 9/11 attack (unsurprisingly).

The problem, though, is that beyond those kinds of extreme asks, as the article makes clear, some users are finding innocuous image creation requests being denied. Windows Central tried to get the chatbot to make an image of a man breaking a server rack with a sledgehammer, but was told this violated Microsoft’s terms of using Bing AI.

Whereas last week, the article author noted that they could create violent zombie apocalypse scenarios featuring popular characters (that are copyrighted) with Bing AI not raising a complaint.


Analysis: Random censorship

The point is about censorship being an overreaction here, or this seemingly being the case going by reports, we should add. Microsoft left the rules too slack in the initial implementation, it appears, but has gone ahead and tightened things too much now.

What really illustrates this is that Bing AI is even censoring itself, as highlighted by someone on Reddit. Bing Image Creator has a ‘surprise me’ button that generates a random image (the equivalent of Google’s ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button, if you will, that produces a random search). But here’s the kicker – the AI is going ahead, creating an image, and then censoring it immediately.

Well, we suppose that is a surprise, to be fair – and one that would seem to aptly demonstrate that Microsoft’s censorship of the Image Creator has maybe gone too far, limiting its usefulness at least to some extent. As we said at the outset, it’s a case of a step forward, then a quick step back.

Windows Central observes that it was able to replicate this scenario of Bing’s self-censorship, and that it’s not even a rare occurrence – it reportedly happens around a third of the time. It sounds like it’s time for Microsoft to do some more fine-tuning around this area, although in fairness, when new capabilities are rolled out, there are likely to be adjustments applied for some time – so perhaps that work could already be underway.

The danger of Microsoft erring too strongly on the ‘rather safe than sorry’ side of the equation is that this will limit the usefulness of a tool that, after all, is supposed to be about exploring creativity.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft to check what’s going on with Bing AI in this respect, and will update this story if we hear back.

You might also like …

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More