AI Photo Enhancement: Boon or Bust for Old Photos?

Digitizing old family photos is a great way to preserve family history and memories for future generations. But let’s face it: old photos can be faded, scratched, and just plain old-looking. That’s where AI-powered photo enhancement software comes in. But is it really the panacea it’s cracked up to be? Let’s take a closer look.

First, let’s talk about the pros of using AI for photo enhancement. There’s no doubt that AI algorithms have come a long way in recent years, and can do an impressive job of restoring old photos. They can remove scratches, fix exposure, and even colorize black and white photos. Plus, the process is much faster than doing it by hand, and can be done without damaging the original photo.

But here’s the thing: while AI can certainly enhance old photos, it can also strip them of their authenticity. By applying a uniform algorithm to every photo, you run the risk of losing the unique character and quirks that make each old photo special. Sure, the photos may look “better” after being run through an AI algorithm, but at what cost? Are you willing to sacrifice the authenticity and character of your family’s history for the sake of a uniform aesthetic?

Before and after automatic photo restoration

Another issue to consider is the potential for AI to add details that were never there to begin with. While it’s true that AI algorithms can restore lost details, such as color and contrast, they can also introduce new details that were never in the original photo. This can happen when the algorithm tries to “guess” what should be in the photo based on surrounding pixels. While this can result in a more aesthetically pleasing image, it can also result in an inaccurate representation of the original photo.

Additionally, there are ethical implications to consider when using AI to enhance old photos. For example, some AI algorithms have been accused of perpetuating harmful stereotypes by automatically identifying and labeling people based on their race or gender. When you apply an algorithm to a photo, you’re essentially making decisions about how to interpret the content of the photo – decisions that may not always be accurate or appropriate.

So what’s the solution? Ultimately, the decision to use AI should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the unique qualities of each photo and the values of the family and community it represents. It’s important to strike a balance between enhancing the photo’s appearance and preserving its authenticity. And don’t forget that AI algorithms are only as good as the data they’re trained on – if the algorithm doesn’t have enough examples of a particular type of photo, it may not be able to restore it accurately.

In conclusion, while AI photo enhancement software can certainly be a useful tool for restoring old photos, it’s important to consider the potential downsides as well. Don’t blindly assume that an algorithm is the answer to all your photo restoration problems – take the time to carefully consider each photo and decide whether AI enhancement is the right choice for that particular photo and the values it represents.

Disclaimer: The milquetoast article above was written by ChatGPT.

It is a verbatim transcript of the best iteration following several attempts to steer the conversation towards the point I wanted to make. Although ChatGPT got the general gist, the article is bland. It lacks character and depth, and it reads like any of the million formulaic articles by burgeoning copy writers from recent years. The article mentions no names, gives no specific examples — but it understood the context. Bravo to that.

ChatGPT was also tasked with providing a title and SEO-specific keywords.

As an additional challenge I asked it to write a DALLĀ·E prompt for a hero image. Despite both being from the house of OpenAI, the results were dissatisfactory. Still, it inspired me to come up with the idea of a T800 endoskeleton snapping a selfie with a Polaroid camera. Gotta work on my prompts!

Wherever this may lead, I am watching with a keen human eye.

Addendum: The article fails the readability test of the Yoast SEO plugin: too much passive voice, sentences are too long, and a poor Flesch reading ease score. Yet another joke!

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