Alexis C. Madrigal: The Camera Knows Too Much

“The cameras know too much. All cameras capture information about the world—in the past, it was recorded by chemicals interacting with photons, and by definition, a photograph was one exposure, short or long, of a sensor to light. Now, under the hood, phone cameras pull information from multiple image inputs into one picture output, along with drawing on neural networks trained to understand the scenes they’re being pointed at. Using this other information as well as an individual exposure, the computer synthesizes the final image, ever more automatically and invisibly. […] Deepfakes are one way of melting reality; another is changing the simple phone photograph from a decent approximation of the reality we see with our eyes to something much different. It is ubiquitous and low temperature, but no less effective.” Alexis C. Madrigal, “No, You Don’t Really Look Like That. A guide to the new reality-melting technology in your phone’s camera’, in The Atlantic, December 18, 2018