Netflix criticised for ‘What Jennifer Did’ documentary AI use
(Credit: Netflix)

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 Netflix criticised for 'What Jennifer Did' documentary AI use

It’s been reported that Netflix has used AI technology to alter a number of images in their new true crime documentary What Jennifer Did. The streaming service recently released the doc on their service, but several photos have been flagged as AI-manipulated.

Netflix has been on the receiving end of criticism after the AI-generation and image alteration accusations were fired at the company. What Jennifer Did focuses on a Canadian woman who was convicted of a kill-for-hire attack on her parents in 2010.

The series focuses on the events of Jennifer Pan’s life that led up to the criminal moment, as well as looking into the crime itself. Half an hour into the documentary, a friend of Pan’s from high school gives a description of Pan.

Nam Nguyen says that Pan was a “bubbly, happy, confident, and very genuine” person, and the documentary then shows several images of Pan, which show her looking happy.

However, it’s now been reported that these images have been altered or generated by AI. One image has Pan giving the peace sign, but a closer look suggests that it has been manipulated using AI technology.

The peace sign fingers on Pan’s hand in the image look to be stretched out, while the other fingers on her hand are all crumpled together, making it look like she had a deformed hand, which, in reality, she didn’t.

It’s well known that AI image generation technology notoriously has a difficult time when creating human hands. AI professor Amelia Winger-Bearskin once told The Washington Post, “AI-generated software has not been able to fully understand what the word ‘hand’ means making the body part difficult to render.”

She added, “Hands come in many shapes, sizes, and forms, and the pictures in training data sets are often more focused on faces.”

From the peace sign image, plus many others, including one where Pan wears a red dress (featuring other AI-signifying artefacts like a long front tooth and a strangely shapen ear), it looks as though Netflix has sanctioned the use of AI technology in order to manipulate a certain view of the documentary’s subject.

Details of Netflix’s use have not been confirmed, but its prospect is controversial in the documentary genre, in which a story is expected to be told with truth and authenticity. What Jennifer Did arrived on Netflix on April 10th.

Check out the trailer for the documentary below.