Canon has chosen to openly embrace AI in every aspect
Even as AI-based systems become commonplace within cameras, camera companies are careful when discussing AI. The sensitivity of the topic makes sense, as AI is a controversial topic not only for photographers but for everyone. But, in a case out of the norm, Amine Djouahra (B2C BU Director, Canon Central, and North Africa) has stated that Canon is choosing to embrace AI openly going forward.
Why is this statement different from the usual AI support?
Perhaps to avoid controversy, there is typically only a single scenario in which a camera company embraces AI: When a camera brand releases a product with an AI-based system. The marketing for the product will usually use the word “AI” as a buzzword, but not much more. Unlike Canon’s recent statement, such marketing supports AI in a selective manner.
The difference between embracing AI as a whole versus embracing a specific AI-based feature has limitless implications. AI can do many things, some of which can be morally questionable. If you are looking at photojournalism, even sharpening can be considered unethical, let alone some of the more intervening AI manipulations. Depending on how camera brands integrate AI, photography may drastically change.
Not exactly a first for Canon
Before the recent statement, Canon had already delved into AI with their “Digital Photo Professional” app. The AI update was first announced about a year ago, and it was a more careful case of using AI. The feature was meant to help remove noise, blur, and moiré from photographs. These days, Canon intends for AI to do a lot more.
“These algorithms can generate artistic styles, apply filters, and offer composition and cropping suggestions, inspiring photographers to explore new horizons of creativity,” explains Amine.
“AI algorithms can analyze a photographer’s unique editing style, color choices, and other preferences to provide personalized recommendations and automated adjustments, streamlining the creative process.” It is those “automatic adjustments” that can be scary. Even if you consider initiatives like Content Authenticity, the question of what authentic content is can become very complex.
Canon and Nikon, like ice and fire
Over the years, people viewed Nikon and Canon as opposites. For the most part, due to the thick competition between the two companies. But, regarding artificial intelligence, unlike Canon’s embrace, Nikon is actively rejecting AI, claiming nature has more beauty and wonder than AI generation.
But Amine has quite the opposite statement: “The advent of AI presents opportunities for product and process development. It’s essential to approach this technology with an open mind, appreciating its advantages while preserving the irreplaceable touch of human ingenuity in creative endeavors. By striking a harmonious balance between AI and human contributions, we can revolutionize the field of photography and beyond, enriching our lives with innovative and captivating creations.”
While AI technology is effective, I hope companies like Canon will be careful about its usage in the future. As Canon is one of the largest camera brands on the market, the decision to openly embrace AI is dangerous. Other companies might follow and push each other to rely on AI innovations more and more. Eventually, in the race for innovation, we might lose what makes us love photography so much.