Fact Check-Photos allegedly from Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic expedition were generated by artificial intelligence

Social media users are sharing images which they claim show top secret photographs from Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic expedition where traces of a lost ancient civilization can be seen. However, the images were created by artificial intelligence and do not show historic photographs of the expedition.

An example can be seen (here).

The text in one post reads: “This is why no one is allowed to visit Antarctica and why every government in the world signed a treaty together to conspire and hide the truth from the mass population. Below you see Top Secret Lost Photos from Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic Expedition. Traces of a lost ancient advance civilization could be seen in the photographs.”

Comments on the post include: “Most interesting photos I’ve seen for a while….” and “There’s most certainly other reasons, would be nice knowing the entire truth of their discoveries.”

Some users point out that the faces of the individuals seen in the images are not visible and others point out that the images must have been created by artificial intelligence.

Admiral Richard E. Byrd was a U.S. naval officer, aviator and explorer who went on several Antarctic expeditions between 1928 and 1956 (here). Details about each expedition can be seen (www.admiralbyrd.com/).

There is no evidence that Byrd discovered a secret civilization in his expeditions as claimed in the posts. However, the expeditions have fueled conspiracy theories. One example is the “Hollow Earth” theory, which believes that the center of the Earth houses a secret civilization as discussed (here), (here).

Videos of Byrd’s Antarctic expeditions can be seen (here), (here), (here), (here) by Reuters and British Pathe. Photographs can be seen on Getty Images (here).

The images seen in the posts appear in a Medium article (here).

The article says: “Thanks to a source who wishes to remain nameless, we had the opportunity to view a large and compelling image collection of never before seen and highly top secret photos from Byrd’s many missions. They seem to depict concrete proof of an entire forgotten civilization — its architectures, artifacts, technologies, and much more — that once called Antarctica their home.”

A note at the end of the article reads: “Certain elements of these images may have been enhanced or generated by AI for quality purposes.”

The article links to a book called “Mysterious Antarctica” published by “Lost Books” in Canada (here).

Reuters contacted Lost Book (lostbooks.ca/), receiving a response from Tim Boucher who said he created the images and that they were generated by the Dall-E 2 from OpenAI (openai.com/dall-e-2/ ), as can be seen by the watermark (five colored squares) on the bottom right corner of the images. Dall-E is an “AI system that creates realistic images and art from a description in natural language,” according to its website (here).

Boucher said he chose to leave the watermarks on the images, because he said the aim of the Medium article, the book and the images is satirical and educational.

“I want people to question their beliefs, examine their assumptions, and take stock of the changing media landscape and how these new technologies can be used for harm as well as good,” Boucher said. “I want to show people what’s possible, and what to watch out for.”

The text in the eBook is around 50% AI generated by using open source text AI models called Fairseq & GPT-NeoX, Boucher said (textsynth.com/playground.html).

“If you say ‘here is how disinformation works,’ a lot of times they will tune you out or be actively hostile,” Boucher said. “Instead, I’ve chosen to demonstrate by using real world examples in hopefully low-harm topics, such as lost civilizations in Antarctica.”

“I want to encourage exactly the debates and fact-finding you see people engage in on that Facebook thread,” Boucher added.


False. The images were created using artificial intelligence and do not show the discovery of a secret civilization in Antarctica.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here .         


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