When British comedian Tessa Coates looked over the photos of herself trying on wedding dresses, she wasn’t expecting that the resulting photos would make her question her own grasp on reality.
On Nov. 4, Coates posted the photo on her Instagram account, describing how this “glitch in the matrix/photo … made [me] nearly vomit in the street.” A little hyperbolic at first glance, but upon further examination of the photo, her reaction doesn’t seem that far off the mark.
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Standing in front of two mirrors in the bridal shop, the photo captured Coates and her two reflections in three distinctly different poses. According to Coates, the photos were not photoshopped or altered in any way — they were taken with a normal iPhone camera, with normal photo settings.
And yet, her three poses are nothing alike: Her arms are in completely different positions in each pose.
Needless to say, her post and her picture caused an uproar on the internet. Admittedly, it is the perfect internet mystery — subtle enough to seem normal at first glance, absolutely unnerving upon further examination.
And like most internet mysteries, it has a fairly prosaic explanation. According to a man identified only as Roger, an employee at an Apple store to whom Coates took the photo, the image was the result of the iPhone’s photo stitch feature, according to the U.K. Mirror.
“It’s made like an AI decision and it stitched those two photos together,” he said, according to the report.
Roger told Coates “the iPhone is not a camera, it’s a computer,” photography news site PetaPixel reported.
Scanning from left to right, “it takes a series of burst images very quickly even though it’s not a panoramic or a burst.”
PetaPixel explained, “People may not be aware of this, but when they click the shutter on their smartphone it takes multiple images and chooses the best elements in a very short space of time.
“For example, pixel binning occurs in smartphones, which allows the data from four pixels to be combined into one. This increases the overall quality of the image without sacrificing low-light capabilities.”
When Coates’ phone took the picture, she must have changed her position just as the photo was being taken, and her phone opted to merge the images together.
Thus, the final photo included three different poses for the same person — a “one in a million” occurrence, according to George.
Even with that explanation, however, the whole series of events remains a little unsettling.
The ever-increasing application of artificial intelligence technology is a hot-button issue, with some praising advancements in technology as a boon to the human race and others warning that AI threatens to replace already endangered jobs.
But for most people, except for playing around with Chat GPT, it still seems more a feature of science fiction than ordinary life.
As this little internet mystery demonstrates, though, we are touched imperceptibly by technology in every aspect of our lives, and that includes the burgeoning AI technology.
Anyone with an Alexa has suspected she’s surreptitiously spying on them. Almost everyone in developed countries has experienced the phenomenon of casually mentioning something in a conversation, only to receive an ad for it later that day.
While now Coates’ photo may be a “one-in-a-million” occurrence, it seems that, as the reach of AI technology grows more pervasive, stories like hers will become increasingly common.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.