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Popular AI art app conjures up wave of controversy

(NewsNation) — Everyone has been posting their Lensa AI pics — and the posts of people depicting themselves as artificial avatars are going viral.

It’s become a social media phenomenon in recent weeks. The Artificial Intelligence art app has promoted millions of downloads but has also conjured up a wave of controversy.

Celebrities have been showing off their AI art in droves. Everyone from Chance the Rapper to NBA star LeBron James and DJ Steve Aoki posted pictures of their Magic Avatars. Millions of others have too.

The souped-up selfies stem from the photo-editing app Lensa AI. It uses uploaded pictures to produce rendered artistic images and charges users to have it done.

Some people are warning that voluntarily uploading personal pictures could pose a safety risk and privacy threat to personal data.

Jim Anderson, AI expert and Beacon CEO, spoke about some of the potential dangers of supplying photos to unfamiliar apps.

“Think about it, you’re taking a picture of yourself, and it’s changing and evolving using some AI that’s been trained on an unknown set of database. What about racial inequity issues? What about the sexualization of women? You know, there’s a variety of things like that, that, you know, when you start to try to understand, okay, how has this AI been trained? And is it been trained responsibly enough? I don’t think we truly know. But I think we’re going to see some examples where like, that’s just not good. And they need to find a way to combat those things,” Anderson said.

Many prominent voices, including actress Megan Fox, have slammed Lensa and its parent company for allegedly sexualizing their avatars. Fox complained that most of them were practically nude.

“Were everyone’s avatars equally as sexual? Like, why are most of mine naked,” Fox posted on Instagram.

Anderson says with everything from the Lensa app to Chat GPT to self-driving cares like Tesla, AI is here to stay.

“Not only will it be common, it will be pervasive, you won’t even be able to avoid it. I mean, it’s just so useful and so remarkable in so many ways. And like you said, it’s incorporated in your car and your watch, and, you know, it’ll be incorporated all kinds of places, and it will actually become increasingly harder to opt out of that, if that’s what you want to do. Because it’s like many technology innovations, if it’s useful, and if it saves people money, or, you know, gives them some benefit, it’s just going to become everywhere,” Anderson said.

As for Lensa’s policy, the company said they automatically delete personal data within 24 hours after being processed. Still, many are skeptical.

Anderson said the best thing users can do is judge how reputable the app or company is before sharing information. He said it’s unrealistic to ask people to read an app’s terms of service, and some can be intentionally tough to decipher. He says people should stick with companies they trust, especially as AI like Lensa becomes more common.