Google Search Now Includes Feature for Tagging AI-Generated or Altered Images

  • July 9, 2024
  • SEO
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Google Search Central has recently updated their documentation to formally recognize and support the labeling of images that have been extended or otherwise manipulated using artificial intelligence (AI). Concurrently, Google has quietly graduated the “AI generated” metadata from its Beta phase, indicating full support for the “AI Generated” label in search results.

IPTC Photo Metadata

The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) is an organization focused on establishing standards for photo metadata, among other things. IPTC photo metadata serves the critical function of embedding information within a photograph, such as copyright details, licensing terms, and descriptive content about the image.

While IPTC standards are formulated by an international press standards organization, Google Images employs these metadata standards beyond the realm of Google News. Consequently, this enables Google Images to display more comprehensive information regarding an image.

Google’s documentation elucidates the utility and advantages of incorporating metadata into images:

“When you specify image metadata, Google Images can show more details about the image, such as who the creator is, how people can use an image, and credit information. For example, providing licensing information can make the image eligible for the Licensable badge, which provides a link to the license and more detail on how someone can use the image.”

AI Image Manipulation Metadata

In a subtle but significant move, Google has adopted metadata standards that pertain to images altered by AI algorithms, such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and generative adversarial networks (GANs). These AI techniques are generally utilized to manipulate images.

There are two primary forms of AI-based image manipulation addressed by the new metadata:

Inpainting

Inpainting typically refers to the process of enhancing an image by restoring or reconstructing it, filling in any missing elements. However, inpainting also encompasses any algorithmic adjustments that add content to an image.

Outpainting

Outpainting involves extending an image beyond its original borders, adding more visual content than what was initially captured in the photograph.

Google now supports labeling images manipulated through either inpainting or outpainting using a new metadata property termed “compositeWithTrainedAlgorithmicMedia” within the Digital Source Type.

This property, despite its structured appearance, is not part of Schema structured data. Rather, it is metadata embedded within the digital image itself.

The following was incorporated into Google’s updated documentation:

“Digital Source Type

compositeWithTrainedAlgorithmicMedia: The image is a composite of trained algorithmic media with some other media, such as with inpainting or outpainting operations.”

Label For “AI Generated” – algorithmicMedia Metadata

Google has also removed the Beta status from the algorithmicMedia metadata specifications. This update means that images created using AI can now be formally labeled as “AI Generated” when the appropriate algorithmicMedia metadata is embedded in the image.

The documentation prior to the modification stated:

“algorithmicMedia: The image was created purely by an algorithm not based on any sampled training data (for example, an image created by software using a mathematical formula).

Beta: Currently, this property is in beta and only available for IPTC photo metadata. Adding this property makes your image eligible for display with an AI-generated label, but you may not see the label in Google Images right away, as we’re still actively developing it.”

The recent change involved eliminating the second paragraph in its entirety to remove any reference to the Beta phase. Notably, this adjustment is not explicitly mentioned in Google’s changelog.

The changelog for Google’s Search Central documentation notes:

“Supporting a new IPTC digital source type
What: Added compositeWithTrainedAlgorithmicMedia to the IPTC photo metadata documentation.

Why: Google can now extract the compositeWithTrainedAlgorithmicMedia IPTC NewsCode.”

Read Google’s updated documentation:

Image metadata in Google Images

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Roman Samborskyi

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