Science & Tech

Man who created the Pope puffer coat image says reaction was 'definitely scary'

Man who created the Pope puffer coat image says reaction was 'definitely scary'
Pope Francis: 10 years of papacy in 10 points

Puffer coat Pope is the most talked about image on the internet over recent days, and it’s been dubbed the ‘first case of widespread AI misinformation’.

But whatever people make of it, no-one can deny that the Pope can really rock a white coat.

In case you missed it, a striking image of Pope Francis wearing a pristine white puffer jacket has been doing the rounds on social media and it’s sparked a huge reaction.

The picture is fake, unfortunately, and it shows an imagined version of the pontiff in his zucchetto skull cap, as well as a large crucifix draped over the coat.

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Many who saw the picture believed it to be real, and the confusion online has been called “definitely scary” by its creator.

Pablo Xavier spoke to Buzzfeed News about the origins of the image, which was created on Mindjourney.

“I’m trying to figure out ways to make something funny because that’s what I usually try to do,” he said. “I try to do funny stuff or trippy art — psychedelic stuff. It just dawned on me: I should do the Pope. Then it was just coming like water: ‘The Pope in Balenciaga puffy coat, Moncler, walking the streets of Rome, Paris,’ stuff like that.”

The picture was created on Friday [March 24]. Pablo Xavier posted them to a Facebook group called AI Art Universe and Reddit and by the weekend it was the most talked about image on the internet.

“I was just blown away,” he said. “I didn’t want it to blow up like that.”

Explaining his thought process behind the image, he said he has “no ill will toward” the pontiff.

“I just thought it was funny to see the Pope in a funny jacket,” he said, discussing the pushback he received after being banned from Reddit for the image. “I figured I was going to get backlash. I just didn’t think it was going to be to this magnitude.”

When asked how he felt about people initially thinking the image was real, he said it was “scary” that “people are running with it and thought it was real without questioning it”.

“I didn’t even think about that,” he said, considering the implications of AI images. “It’s definitely going to get serious if they don’t start implementing laws to regulate it”.

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