Opinion: Google Pixel 8 AI Magic Editor – what constitutes a photograph in 2023?

A photo of the Pixel 8 Pro
(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)

I’m on the mailing list for new Google launches, and when the official Pixel 8 series email came through, I saw the Magic Editor tool demoed in gif form, and my heart sank. In approximately seven seconds, what started as a photo became something altogether other. After removing a background object, moving a subject across a beach scene (generative AI filling in the blanks), totally switching out the sky a couple of times, and then adding a golden hour filter to the whole thing, a bland daytime shot became a stylized lie.

(Image credit: Google)

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Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is a freelance technology journalist and content creator with a number of specialisms. He started his career at Canon Europe, before joining Phone Arena and Recombu as a tech writer and editor. From there, he headed up and runs Tech[edit], a technology YouTube channel, and has worked alongside this role at Future as a Senior Producer, sharpening his considerable video production skills. 

His technical expertise has been called on numerous times by mainstream media, with appearances and interviews on outlets like Sky News, and he provides Digital Camera World with insight and reviews on camera phones, video editing software and laptops, on-camera monitors, camera sliders, microphones and much more.