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In a stunning turn of events, the winner of a prestigious photography award has refused to accept his prize after revealing that his entry was created using artificial intelligence (AI). German artist Boris Eldagsen submitted a haunting black-and-white portrait entitled Pseudomnesia: The Electrician to the creative open category of the Sony World Photography Award.

Picture: AI picture that won award: Pseudomnesia

Eldagsen admitted that he used the picture to test the competition and spark a discussion about the future of photography. However, organisers of the award claim that Eldagsen misled them about the extent of AI used in the creation of his entry.

In a statement on his website, Eldagsen thanked the judges for selecting his image, but revealed that he would not be accepting the award. He argued that AI images and photography are different entities and should not compete with each other in an award like this. He also pointed out that the use of AI in photography, particularly in the creation of deepfakes, has been widely debated in recent months.

The World Photography Organisation, the photography strand of art events organisers Creo, defended their decision to include Eldagsen’s entry in the competition. They said that the creative category of the open competition welcomes various experimental approaches to image-making, including cutting-edge digital practices. However, they stressed that the awards have always been a platform for championing the excellence and skill of photographers and artists working in the medium.

Picture: German Photgrapher, Boris Eldagsen.

Eldagsen had reportedly made it clear to the organisers that he wanted to engage in an open discussion about the topic of AI in photography, but this request was not fulfilled. He has suggested donating the prize to a photo festival in Ukraine.

Photographer and blogger Feroz Khan commented on the situation, saying that Eldagsen had shown that even experienced photographers and art experts can be fooled. The use of AI in everything from songwriting to the development of medicine has been the subject of much debate recently, and it seems that the photography industry is now facing its own AI-related challenges.

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