Amish Buggy Crash (With Weird A.I. Illustration?)

I know AI content is showing up everywhere now. I’ve seen it used for some Amish-related content already. But this is the first time I’ve seen artificial intelligence illustrating an Amish buggy crash.

First, the more serious part of this story, the actual crash (via KTTN). Sadly, it is another bad-sounding buggy accident, this one in Missouri:

The collision happened when the Ford Escape struck the rear of the horse-drawn buggy. Following the impact, both the SUV and the buggy veered off the west side of the roadway. The Ford Escape overturned, coming to rest on its top, while the buggy was removed from the scene by Still’s Towing.

Sarah Dowling, who was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, sustained minor injuries and was transported by a private party to an unspecified location for treatment. Rueben Schwartz and his passenger, Laura May Schwartz, 24, also of Macon received serious injuries and were taken by the MU Life Team to the University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, for urgent care.

Wishing the best possible recovery to Reuben and Laura May Schwartz. And to the SUV driver. No details on the immediate cause here. But if the buggy was struck from behind, this was most likely preventable on the side of the driver.

A.I. Buggy Crash Image

Here’s the image that went along with the story. It’s very eye-catching, which I suppose is the point. But also very weird.

Image: KTTN

First, the horse, standing perfectly in place, staring right at the camera. Startled or quizzical look on its face. Odd body texture.

Image: KTTN

The buggy looks “off” to say the least. It appears to be balanced on two wheels. Amongst the debris, I see another, tiny wheel. I’m not sure what’s going on with that buggy front. There’s a peculiar red-and-yellow emblem hanging there. Some other odd elements here and there, looking like computer-generated visual debris.

Image: KTTN

And indeed, the story is credited to “Digital Correspondent“, which apparently generated the text as well:

This article was written by our Digital Correspondent, or the Artificial Intelligence engine Chat GPT (https://openai.com/). We provide all of the pertinent information related to the articile we want, such as a news release or information provided by one of the KTTN/KGOZ staff, and the AI engine then writes the article from a prompt.

A real person apparently examines and edits the text after that, which is pretty standard practice for A.I.-generated content.

KTTN Digital Correspondent description

What do you think?

A.I.-generated images can be striking. But just as often they strike me as weird, or unsettling. Often there is something “off” about them.

I suppose those issues will gradually recede as the technology advances. Still, I’m not a huge fan. That might make me a bit out of touch in 2024. Though now that I say that – full disclosure – I realize I’ve actually used A.I. twice on video cover images, in minor ways. In both cases, to fill in background segments (here and here).

The slightly-different-looking brick background on the left (over my shoulder) was “extended” using an A.I. tool. That’s about as far as I can see myself using it

That sort of thing is about as far as I can see myself using it, however. I don’t expect I’d ever use it to create, say, Amish images out of whole cloth. Though if I did, I would make a point of saying something about it (assuming it wouldn’t be obvious already).

I also think there’s an interesting discussion to be had about image enhancement, versus outright creation. Enhancement has been done for years and years, with a variety of Photoshop-style tools. These tools now come built-in to just about every social media platform (to take one obvious example). Creating images completely from scratch seems to me another animal.

Anyway, I guess we’re going to be seeing more and more of this. What do you think?

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    22 Comments

    1. Mike

      Harness

      And the horse isn’t in harness.

      1. Erik Wesner

        Yes. Good catch there.

      2. Connie

        I noticed that too. And didn’t see anything resembling scraps of a harness on the ground. Don’t the horses also wear blinders?? Praying that the 3 involved in the accident will recover completely.

    2. Joe

      What I think the French think about AI

      I hope this isn’t too gross, Erik. If so, feel free to not allow it to post.

      When written/pronounced in French, Chat GPT comes out as, “Chat, j’ai pété.” When translated to English, this means, “Cat, I farted.” Which is kinda what I think much AI is like. Kinda gross and stinky and would not rather have it happening!

      1. Erik Wesner

        This went in a direction I didn’t expect! 😀 French Chat GPT may be trying to tell us something…

    3. Erik Wesner

      Also, on the horse

      Dan Byler adds another point worth mentioning, via email:

      “There is also the matter of having a “work” horse pictured. That is very uncommon for use in a buggy. Normally a standardbred horse or possibly a haflinger would be used.”

    4. Don't like A.I.

      Don’t like it at all. It distorts the truth or creates fakeness. Especially in movies.
      That horse didn’t have any driving tack on it. Where’s the reins, harness, other tack? Horse only has a halter on. I think any picture of a horse was just ‘inserted’ and I resent it.

    5. Gary

      Horse

      Look at that horses rear right leg seems to be disjointed somehow from the body. A.I. should have made that little wheel a big wheel it screwed up.
      It won’t be long until people in movies will be all A.I. No actors needed. No professors or teachers either A.I has access to all the info that has ever been instantly. Do not trust anything you see or hear on the net. They can make any image look like anybody and sound like anybody.
      Welcome to the brave new world.
      God help us.

    6. Carol L Kohn

      Generated picture of crash

      Who ever made it made a lot of mistakes. Like was said of the wheels and the horse just standing there. The horse doesn’t have a bridle on just a halter, no driving harness and you can believe the horse wouldn’t be standing looking at you. I think real pictures need to be used.

    7. Al in Ky

      I agree — the whole buggy style looks “off”; especially the back window. Erik — you need to take A. I. on your next visit to an Amish community and teach them a few things.

      1. Erik Wesner

        Yes the portals on this buggy are quite odd. I would need an operating manual for the A.I.! Although out of curiosity I have actually played around with a couple of image generators. I would say the output can be visually striking but as often as not weird or even disturbing.

    8. Terry from Wisconsin

      Yes, an odd picture

      Love the pose of the horse, but where’s the harness?

    9. AI Authors

      As an author and reader, I’m troubled with AI generated books fully written by computers and sold on Amazon.com etc. under false (AI generated?) names. More to come, I’m sure. Already, we’re living in a world where you can no longer say, “I’ll prove it. I have a photograph.”

      1. Erik Wesner

        This one also puzzles me Jim. I sometimes think about all the many, many works of literature I won’t get around to reading in this lifetime. And to spend one of those book-reads on something created by AI…? Maybe at some point the quality of such writing will rival or even exceed what the better or even average flesh-and-blood authors produce. But I’m very skeptical that time is now.

    10. Kal

      Horse Has No Horseshoes

      It is definitely not a real picture. One thing I noticed is the house doesn’t have horseshoes on. And you are right, that buggy looks really fake.

    11. Sherry

      AI not for me

      I’m not interested in AI in the least. I may get to the point I turn it all off.

    12. AI Generated Images

      Erik,
      I’ve got to wonder if the person or people in charge of the AI generated images have ever encountered a horse in real life or have ever seen pictures of horses. How else would you explain an unharnessed horse next to the buggy debris?

      1. Erik Wesner

        Yea I think they probably don’t care so much about how authentic the photo looks to the general reader. It’s more about having a visually striking “clickable” photo.

    13. Catherine A Hazur

      Fony foto

      How do they expect us to believe that a horse that had been pulling a buggy just before got rear ended full force by a motor vehicle, would be standing calmly upright without a mark on him, WITHOUT A HARNESS ON, either, after the wreck?

      I totally agree with the other ridiculous discrepancies you have already pointed out.

      My advice is to take your own fotos and file your own reports from Amish and conservative Mennonite communities. Anybody with half a brain can figure out that this is bogus from the get go and offensive to boot. This type of “photography” will probably not endear the meddlers to the Amish Community

    14. Kiri Blakeley

      Hi Eric

      I’m a real journalist not a bot haha. Yes, we still exist. For now 🙂

      I’d love to speak with you for a story and emailed you. I know you’ve said you get so many emails that it can be quicker to comment on your stories, so I’m doing that. The email is titled “media request.”

      Thanks!

      1. Erik Wesner

        Ha I believe you now! Just replied.

    15. Erik Wesner

      I showed Ben Riehl this photo while recording our latest Ben & Erik show episode. The way the horse was standing struck him as quite weird. Among other things.