AI That Creates Spirits in Our Photos

A “What the heck” news story…

Often as I am searching for inspiration for new content for my website I will stumble on an odd news story or perhaps statement that literally has me thinking; “what the heck!” This is one of those occasions, but equally one that suggests that perhaps many ghost hunters will now need to start looking deeper in order to understand what should be defined as ‘evidence’.

Those that know me and have read some of my blogs, will know that I have a little trouble subscribing to the three classics of video, photographs and audio as being ‘evidence’ of the paranormal. The reason being that none are conclusive at all and tend to be very subjective. Audio usually requires some kind of suggestion to what it may be, then we hear it easily. Even when the audio is crystal clear and I’ve had that at the Explosions Museum, we must then look into other possibilities such as psychic projection. Video is just as bad and often when our fancy digital technology struggles to focus it can create imagery which could be perceived as a spirit. Photographs generally come with a caption or a standard red circle to identify something in the picture, which in all honesty could be pareidolia. Granted in all three categories there have been some unbelievable examples, to which many may say to me, go on explain that one away! However the simplest explanation here is in some cases we just don’t know how that imagery may occur, just because the information presents itself as it does, equally doesn’t necessarily suggest the presence of a conscious spirit. The cause could be a whole other bunch of stuff, from our own psychic abilities, interpretation of information to something acting on the localised environment from a distance in both time and space. Basically we just don’t know!

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Spooky photo’s…

However as the title suggests lets concentrate on those spooky photos for this psi theory post shall we.

Technology has been gradually catching up with our understanding of the spiritual in my opinion giving us technology that almost mirrors that of our psychical universe. Many ancient cultures teach us that we are or at least were all connected all of the time somehow, they also seem to leave out the details, but there was a greater connection between us. Something still seen in the animal kingdom today, often related to animals that manage to navigate or find each other over vast distances. Today many of us are still constantly connected, but its due to the internet and mobile technology that this is possible. I can have conversations with friends I have never met face to face that live on the other side of the planet now. Communication that breaches time and space in a way, which oddly sounds a little like telepathy too right. The point here being that technology is bridging the gap for the western world that we find difficult to trust our senses or beliefs to do for us. Although that said many eastern ways are slowly finding their way into our western world too now, especially as we focus on improving our body, mind and soul.

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Technologies good, bad and the ugly role…

In paranormal investigation technology has played a good, bad and sometimes ugly part in progressing and hindering the field. Where we now have the technology to perfectly document situations properly and some do, we equally utilise it to enhance our experience and in some cases its more entertainment rather than investigation. Our own beliefs and perceptions have in many cases prevented us from progressing remaining fixed by the scare-factor rather than seeking the hard facts of the situation.

More recently our precious mobile technology has even started to work against the field with apps that add spooky figures to your photos, some of which are completely obvious, but others are actually quite subtle. It’s the subtle ones that are more interesting too and could present an excellent study in my opinion. I have been sent a number of these photos over the last few years, actually when I say sent that doesn’t happen anymore either. These days you’re asked to comment on the photo which has been posted on social media. We all know the photo’s as often these can spark quite heated debates, some of which seem to spiral out of control becoming almost a personal attack. Which is a disheartening aspect of the field today and something I am not about to address in this post.

Often is the case that a mobile app has cleverly added the subtle image of a ghost, usually a child or woman in white. That image has then been passed from one person to the next and at some point the source of the image is slightly lost. Hence that is was created by an app is equally lost and suddenly its suggested to be proof of spirit. The discussions that these photos can create are remarkable in my opinion. They vary from individuals stating coldly with no explanation that the photo is a fake and its obvious to some individuals defending the image, some even suggesting they can ‘sense’ things about the ghost in the picture. I have to admit, arguments aside on social media, I often find the conversations fascinating regarding these pictures, which by all intense and purpose are fake!

So, creating a photo intentionally and putting it out is one thing, as the origins could be simply traced using the EXIF data or in some cases they are just obviously not real. Especially when the same spooky boy in a flat cap appears in numerous pictures. However what if technology itself could locate photos and add spooky images, varied images rather than stock images itself without human assistance? What is Artificial Intelligence (AI) was capable of doing this too, then releasing the images onto the internet for anyone to find? Well here’s the spooky thing, it already can!

MIT’s AI for spooky snaps…

A group of MIT researchers have created AI that inserts horror movie-style spectral figures into photographs in order to turn standard pictures into something a little more haunting. The software is even called; ‘AI Spirits’ and it basically maps photo’s that are missing people and inserts these into other photo’s.

Here’s a link to a news story about it – https://www.techly.com.au/2018/11/30/creepy-new-ai-inserts-ghosts-photos/

Now their purpose isn’t to create an abundance of fake paranormal pictures, but to create a presence of absence. A way in which we can prevent ourselves forgetting those that are no longer with us. If I understand it correctly it’s almost a way of paying homage to those that we feel around us still, but are not physically present anymore. In my opinion I find it extremely normal as we often will keep photographs, often on display of family members that we have lost over the years. These guys don’t intend to flood the internet with loads of spooky pictures, as far as I know. However, as I mentioned previously it’s easy for the source of an image to be lost and it soon become something paranormal. So, perhaps we will stumble upon some of the MIT researchers AI created photo’s in the future, in which case we should make sure they don’t catch us out as investigators right?

What are your thoughts on photographs as evidence of the paranormal? Have you got any photo’s that you believe are excellent evidence? Have you ever been caught out by a fake photo, app created or otherwise?

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