The swagged-out pope is an AI fake — and an early glimpse of a new reality

The original viral image (left) and another AI-generated fake from the same batch (right). | Image: via Reddit

AI-generated images have gone viral before, but none have spread so far and wide as a picture of the pope wearing what can only be described as a swagged-out puffy jacket. Call him the Supreme pontiff. The Balenciaga bishop. The vicar of drip.

The picture seems to have been first posted online on Friday, submitted to a subreddit for the AI image generator Midjourney. Over the weekend, it spread on Twitter and other social networks, first as a meme and then as the subject of debunking. By Sunday, Chrissy Teigen was tweeting about it — a reliable indicator that an internet joke has gone mainstream.

“I thought the pope’s puffer jacket was real and didnt give it a second thought. no way am I surviving the future of technology,” Teigen…

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