An image by German photographer, Boris Eldagsen, which was created with the aid of an artificial intelligence (AI) generator, has created worldwide controversy in this year’s awards.

Boris Eldagsen’s entry into the Creative section of the 2023 Sony World Photography Awards, titled “PSEUDOMNESIA | THE ELECTRICIAN” was produced with the aid of artificial intelligence. © Boris Eldagsen.

In a statement on his website, Eldagsen explained he had “applied as a cheeky monkey” to find out if competitions would be prepared for AI images to enter. “They are not,” he added. His exploit has stirred up worldwide controversy since it comes at a time when there is widespread debate on the value (or otherwise) of AI-based applications like Chat GPT, which can replicate human-created text, and DALL-E, which creates realistic images and art from a description in natural language. It seems obvious competition judges haven’t been keeping up-to-date with the latest developments – a deficiency that will need to be rectified urgently in the light of the number of photo competitions proliferating around the globe.

According to Eldagsen, ‘AI images and photography should not compete with each other in an award like this. They are different entities. AI is not photography. Therefore I will not accept the award.’ His entry was quickly removed from the Sony World Photography Awards website.

When notified of the win, Eldagsen refused to accept the award. He has suggested donating the prize to a photo festival hosted in Odesa, Ukraine.

You can read Eldagsen’s explanation of his entry process here.