Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

Pope Francis Didn't Really Wear A White Puffer Coat. But It Won't Be the Last Time You're Fooled By an AI-Generated Image. A photo from Midjourney, a generative AI program, tricked the internet into thinking the pope had winter style.

By Gabrielle Bienasz

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A photo of Pope Francis went viral over the weekend when an image of him stepping out in public in a stylish, puffer-coat version of white papal wear made its way around the internet, inspiring jokes for some and complete shock for others.

The image was fake.

According to Insider, the image was created with the "generative AI" program Midjourney, a platform where you can enter text and receive often highly detailed, sometimes uber-realistic images in return.

In a Reddit thread, r/midjourney, people submit images that were created using the program, from a Rembrandt with cellphones to Severus Snape from the Harry Potter universe playing at the 1969 music festival Woodstock.

On Friday, a user posted a series of photos of Pope Francis in a white jacket, one of which went viral on Twitter. The image even fooled Chrissy Teigen.

"It went so viral, not just because it was funny to some people, but because most people couldn't tell it was fake," Sinéad Bovell, founder of media and technology company WAYE told CNN.

She suggested that social media platforms might have features in the future that would mark these types of images as AI-generated.

One way to tell that the image is AI-generated, at least in this case, is that the hands look misshapen, as the program struggles to create hands, per BuzzFeed News.

Related: Getty Images Has Started Legal Proceedings Against an AI Generative Art Company For Copyright Infringement

It is possible these photos are only going to get more popular as other generative AI programs that work similarly, such as DALL-E, from the same company behind ChatGPT, OpenAI, hit the mainstream.

Lensa AI was another program that used generative AI to iterate on inputted images that found itself in the headlines in late 2022. Users were seemingly wowed by the realistic, digital portraits that depicted users as woodland fairies or in space.

Related: What is Lensa AI? And Does it Pose Privacy and Ethical Concerns?

Still, there could be implications beyond what the Pope's lifestyle brand would be called. We're hovering on the edge of a world where "we can't distinguish what's real and what's not," Bovell told CNN.

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

Now that OpenAI's Superalignment Team Has Been Disbanded, Who's Preventing AI from Going Rogue?

We spoke to an AI expert who says safety and innovation are not separate things that must be balanced; they go hand in hand.


What Franchising Can Teach The NFL About The Impact of Private Equity

The NFL is smart to take a thoughtful approach before approving institutional capital's investment in teams.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

Beyond the Great Resignation — How to Attract Freelancers and Independent Talent Back to Traditional Work

Discussing the recent workplace exit of employees in search of more meaningful work and ways companies can attract that talent back.

Business News

Scarlett Johansson 'Shocked' That OpenAI Used a Voice 'So Eerily Similar' to Hers After Already Telling the Company 'No'

Johansson asked OpenAI how they created the AI voice that her "closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference."

Business Ideas

Struggling to Balance Your Business and Your Relationship? This Company Says It Has a Solution.

Jessica Holton, co-founder and CEO of Ours, says her company is on a mission to destigmatize couples therapy so that people can be proactive about relationship health.


Marketing Campaigns Must Do More than Drive Clicks — Here's How to Craft Landing Pages That Convert Clicks into Customers

Following fundamental design principles will ensure that your landing pages lead potential customers from clicking on an ad to completing a purchase.