Uber Eats is AI-Generating Images, and it’s terrible at it
Does your favorite restaurant not have pictures on their Uber Eats page? You might want to recheck it, as Uber Eats started to fill missing images with AI-generated ones. Automatically. Without checking their results. As you can expect, the results are between slightly uncanny and downright hilarious.
This incident exploded on Twitter/X when user Online Boy uploaded some strange screenshots. They showed a pizzeria menu in NYC, except most of the menu images don’t show pizza at all. They either show uncanny food or, more often than not, random pies.
What’s going on?
Why did it happen? Well, in NYC, it’s normal to refer to a pizza as a pie. AI image generators don’t know that. The AI generates food without context, and no verification is required. What the AI thinks is, apparently, what your restaurant must be selling.
Online Boy later contacted the pizzeria to ask if they did it themselves. According to him, the restaurant just replied they “didn’t know what AI was.”
“This isn’t what I’ve paid for…”
The sudden inclusion of generated images might be problematic. The restaurant didn’t know about the images until they were contacted. By then, someone might have already ordered a meal, thinking they were about to get what’s in the image, as is the norm.
Between unsatisfied customers and frustrated restaurants needing to deal with many more refunds, such a change to Uber Eats should be handled far better than it is now.
It’s not the first time we see a service to include AI-generated images. Google can generate AI images directly from the search bar, and while not AI-based, IKEA does often use computer generation to fake visuals.
But, in the case of Uber Eats, the lack of control by the restaurant might cause direct damage to the business and its customers. That’s especially true for hungry customers who order based on what they see in the image and not based on what’s written.