Saturday 17 February 2024

AI-generated scientific paper illustration of a rat with a giant erect penis shocks the scientific community

This is a warning about the dangers of AI-generated images and documents. It concerns a research paper published by a leading scientific journal online about the "signalling pathway of sperm stem cells" which was illustrated with a picture of a rat with a giant erect penis and four giant testicles with gobbledygook labelling.

Was this a deliberate plan by the people who submitted the research report to undermine the scientific journals online with the intention to shed light on the lack of oversight by these journals?

AI-generated scientific paper illustration of a rat with a giant erect penis shocks the scientific community. The words of the labelling is rubbish. The words are made-up. Image: The Telegraph.

This AI cock up of a scientific paper created by an artificial intelligence computer got past the journal's peer reviewers and other checks that they are meant to be running and ended up being published. It's been ridiculed of course and it's become a news media story of interest because it provides us with a warning about the potential deficiencies of artificial intelligence.

It also tells us about how artificial intelligence can deceive people because sometimes these images are very good despite being fake. You end up not being sure what is real and what is unreal which in the hands of unscrupulous people can be dangerous.

The research paper was supposedly written by researchers at the Honghui Hospital in China. It's been removed from the journal and the administrators have issued an apology and confirmed that they are working to "correct the record".

Scientists have expressed their concern as to how it was published in the first place. Adrian Liston, Professor of pathology at Cambridge University and editor of the journal Immunology and Cell Biology said: "Generative AI is very good at making up things that sound like they come from a human being. It doesn't check whether those things are correct."

The research paper has been likened to an actor pretending to be a doctor and then delivering medical advice to a patient. Other scientists have described the illustrations as 'shameful' and 'devastating' while some said that they weren't sure "whether to laugh or cry".

The illustrations have been described as "objectively funny" but "[they] have no place in science journals."

The story is a warning to anybody researching online. What is troubling for me is that this fakery has occurred on a science journal. Science is meant to be objective and accurate. It's meant to be as precise and truthful as best as it can be. 

And therefore this AI-generated craziness has infiltrated a bastion of science. You might expect it to occur in less precise and scientific environments but it hasn't and this is troublesome.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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