Press release: Better Images of AI launches a free stock image library of more realistic images of artificial intelligence


  • Non-profit collaboration starts to make and distribute more accurate and inclusive visual representations of AI
  • Follows research showing that current popular images of AI using themes like white human-like robots and glowing brains and blue backgrounds create barriers to understanding of technology, trust, and diversity
  • Available for technical, science, news and general media and marketing communications

December 14, 2021 08:00 AM Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

LONDON, UK. Today sees the launch of Better Images of AI Image Library, which makes available the first commissioned and curated stock images of artificial intelligence (AI) in response to various research studies which have substantiated concerns about the negative impacts of the existing available imagery.

betterimagesofai.org is a collaboration between various global academics, artists, diversity advocates, and non-profit organisations. It aims to help create a more representative and realistic visual language for AI systems, themes, applications and impacts. It is now starting to provide free images, guidance and visual inspiration for those communicating on AI technologies. 

At present, the available downloadable images on photo libraries, search engines, and content platforms are dominated by a limited range of images, for example, those based on science fiction inspired shiny robots, glowing brains and blue backgrounds. These tropes are often used as inspiration even when new artwork is commissioned by media or tech companies.

The first few images to be released on the library showcase different approaches to visually communicating technologies such as computer vision and natural language processing and to communicating themes such as the role of ‘click workers’ who annotate data use in machine learning training and other human input to machine learning.

A photographic rendering of a young black man standing in front of a cloudy blue sky, seen through a refractive glass grid and overlaid with a diagram of a neural network
“Quantified Human” by Alan Warburton
Two digitally illustrated green playing cards on a white background, with the letters A and I in capitals and lowercase calligraphy over modified photographs of human mouths in profile.
“Handmade AI” by Alina Constantin
A banana, a plant and a flask on a monochrome surface, each one surrounded by a thin white frame with letters attached that spell the name of the objects
“Banana / Plant / Flask” by Max Gruber

Better Images of AI is coordinated by We and AI and includes research, development and artistic input from BBC R&D, with academic partners Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. Founding supporters of the initiative include the Ada Lovelace Institute, The Alan Turing Institute, The Institute for Human-Centred AI, Digital Catapult, International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW), All Tech is Human, Feminist Internet and the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI). These organisations will advise on the creation of images, ensuring that social and technical considerations and expertise underpin the creation and distribution of compelling new images.

Octavia Reeve, Interim Lead, Ada Lovelace Institute said:

“The images that depict AI play a fundamental role in shaping how we perceive it. Those perceptions shape the ways AI is built, designed, used and adopted. To ensure these technologies work for people and society we must develop more representative, inclusive, diverse and realistic images of AI. The Ada Lovelace Institute is delighted to be a Founding Supporter of the Better Images of AI initiative.”

Dr. Kanta Dihal, Senior Research Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge said:

“Images of white plastic androids, Terminators, and blue brains have been increasingly widely criticized for misinforming people about what AI is, but until now there has been a huge lack of suitable alternative images. I am incredibly excited to see the Better Images of AI project leading the way in providing these alternatives.”

Dr. Charlotte Webb, Co-founder of Feminist Internet said: 

“The images we use to describe and represent AI shape not only how it is understood in the public imaginary, but also how we build, interact with and subvert it. Better Images is trying to intervene in the picturing of AI so we can expand beyond the biases and lack of imagination embedded in today’s stock imagery.”  

Professor Teemu Roos, Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence, University of Helsinki said:

Images are not just decoration – especially in today’s fast-paced media environment, headlines and illustrations count at least as much as the actual story. But while it’s easy to call out bad stock photos, it’s very hard to find good alternatives. I’m extremely happy to see an initiative like the Better Images of AI filling a huge gap in the way we can communicate about AI without perpetuating harmful misconceptions and mystification of AI.

David Ryan Polgar, Founder and Director of All Tech Is Human said:

“Visual representation of artificial intelligence greatly influences our overall conception of how AI is impacting society, along with signalling inclusion of who is, and who should be, involved in the process. Given the ubiquitous nature of AI and its broad impact on most every aspect of our lives, Better Images of AI is a much-needed shift away from the intimidatingly technical and often mystical portrayal of AI that assumes an unwarranted neutrality. AI is made by humans and all humans should feel welcome to participate in the conversation around it.”

Tania Duarte, Co-Founder of We and AI said:

“We have found that misconceptions about AI make it hard for people to be aware of the impact of AI systems in their lives, and the human agency behind them. Myths about sentient robots are fuelled by the pictures they see, which are overhyped, futuristic, colonial, and distract from the real opportunities and issues. That’s why We and AI are so pleased to have coordinated this project which will build greater public engagement with AI, and support more trustworthy AI.”

The Better Images of AI project has so far been funded by volunteers at We and AI and BBC R&D, and now invites sponsors, donations in kind and other support in order to grow the repository and ensure that more images from artists from underrepresented groups, and from the global south can be included. 

Better Images of AI invites interest from organisations who wish to know more about the briefs developed as part of the project and to get involved in working with artists to represent their AI projects. They also wish to make contact with artists and art organisations who are interested in joining the project.

Contact

For further information: info (at) betterimagesofai.org

For funding offers: tania.duarte (at) weandai.org

Website: https://www.betterimagesofai.org

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ImagesofAI

Notes

We and AI are a UK non-profit organisation engaging, connecting and activating communities to make AI work for everybody. Their volunteers develop programmes including the Race and AI Toolkit, and AI Literacy & AI in Society workshops. They support a greater diversity of people to get involved in shaping the impact and opportunities of AI systems.
Website: https://weandai.org/ Email: hello (at) weandai.org

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