AI Surpasses Reality: White AI Faces More Convincing Than Real Humans

AI Face Generation Analysis

A study reveals that AI-generated white faces are now perceived as more real than actual human faces, with a notable discrepancy in the realism of AI faces of people of color. This trend, attributed to AI training biases, raises concerns about reinforcing racial biases and the spread of misinformation. Credit:

New research shows that AI-generated white faces appear more realistic than real human faces, signaling potential risks of racial bias and misinformation in AI technology.

White faces generated by artificial intelligence (AI) now appear more real than human faces, according to new research led by experts at The Australian National University (ANU).

In the study, more people thought AI-generated white faces were human than the faces of real people. The same wasn’t true for images of people of color.

The reason for the discrepancy is that AI algorithms are trained disproportionately on white faces, Dr. Amy Dawel, the senior author of the paper, said.

Implications of AI Realism

“If white AI faces are consistently perceived as more realistic, this technology could have serious implications for people of color by ultimately reinforcing racial biases online,” Dr. Dawel said.

“This problem is already apparent in current AI technologies that are being used to create professional-looking headshots. When used for people of color, the AI is altering their skin and eye color to those of white people.”

Headshots Art Concept

This image was generated by AI, specifically with Midjourney V5.2. Credit:

Understanding AI ‘Hyper-Realism’

One of the issues with AI ‘hyper-realism’ is that people often don’t realize they’re being fooled, the researchers found.

“Concerningly, people who thought that the AI faces were real most often were paradoxically the most confident their judgments were correct,” Elizabeth Miller, study co-author and PhD candidate at ANU, said.

“This means people who are mistaking AI imposters for real people don’t know they are being tricked.”

The researchers were also able to discover why AI faces are fooling people.

Why AI Faces Are Deceptive

“It turns out that there are still physical differences between AI and human faces, but people tend to misinterpret them. For example, white AI faces tend to be more in-proportion and people mistake this as a sign of humanness,” Dr. Dawel said.

“However, we can’t rely on these physical cues for long. AI technology is advancing so quickly that the differences between AI and human faces will probably disappear soon.”

Potential Consequences

The researchers argue this trend could have serious implications for the proliferation of misinformation and identity theft, and that action needs to be taken.

“AI technology can’t become sectioned off so only tech companies know what’s going on behind the scenes. There needs to be greater transparency around AI so researchers and civil society can identify issues before they become a major problem,” Dr. Dawel said.

Raising public awareness can also play a significant role in reducing the risks posed by the technology, the researchers argue.

“Given that humans can no longer detect AI faces, society needs tools that can accurately identify AI imposters,” Dr. Dawel said.

“Educating people about the perceived realism of AI faces could help make the public appropriately skeptical about the images they’re seeing online.”

The study was published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Reference: “AI Hyperrealism: Why AI Faces Are Perceived as More Real Than Human Ones” by Elizabeth J. Miller, Ben A. Steward, Zak Witkower, Clare A. M. Sutherland, Eva G. Krumhuber and Amy Dawel, 12 November 2023, Psychological Science.
DOI: 10.1177/09567976231207095

1 Comment on "AI Surpasses Reality: White AI Faces More Convincing Than Real Humans"

  1. stephen p schaffer | December 23, 2023 at 10:08 am | Reply

    Here we go again, first Facial Recognition was branded as racist now AI is branded as racist albeit for a different reason. Are there people whose lives are committed to identifying and scolding White people at every turn?
    Wokieness is so tiresome.

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