An AI-Generated Image Of An Explosion At The Pentagon Caused The Stock Market To Dip Last Week


A fake image depicting an explosion at the Pentagon, believed to be generated by artificial intelligence (AI), caused a brief dip in the stock market after gaining significant attention on Twitter. The picture, shared by a “verified” account called “Bloomberg Feed,” featured a misleading caption stating, “Large Explosion Near the Pentagon Complex in Washington, DC — Initial Report.”

The post quickly circulated on Twitter, eventually impacting the real-world stock market. Within four minutes of Twitter user DeItaone sharing the post at 10:06 am, the market experienced a 0.26 percent decline, as reported by Insider. Although the market swiftly recovered, this incident highlights the speed and effectiveness with which AI-generated misinformation can propagate through existing information channels, particularly on a platform like Elon Musk’s Twitter, which has its share of flaws.

This picture taken 26 December 2011 shows the Pentagon building in Washington, DC. The Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense (DOD), is the world’s largest office building by floor area, with about 6,500,000 sq ft (600,000 m2), of which 3,700,000 sq ft (340,000 m2) are used as offices. Approximately 23,000 military and civilian employees and about 3,000 non-defense support personnel work in the Pentagon. AFP PHOTO (Photo by STAFF / AFP) (Photo by STAFF/AFP via Getty Images)

While it cannot be confirmed with absolute certainty that the image was created by an AI, it displays several typical AI-generated characteristics. For example, the fence around the building seems to blend into the sidewalk, and the window frames of the Pentagon are not perfectly aligned.

Even after law enforcement agencies took to Twitter to debunk the image, the stock market reacted negatively. The Pentagon Force Protection Agency and the Arlington County Fire Department explicitly stated that no explosion or incident had occurred at or near the Pentagon reservation, assuring the public of their safety.

Twitter promptly replaced the original post with a disclaimer, indicating that it was an AI-generated hoax and that the initial report was fraudulent and subsequently deleted. Nevertheless, numerous accounts, including conspiracy-affiliated ones and the Russian state media account RT, with over three million followers, chose to reshare the image.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the tangible consequences that can arise from the widespread availability of generative AI tools. As we only scratch the surface of what is possible with this technology, it is likely that we will encounter more cases like this in the near future. It emphasizes the need for vigilance, critical thinking, and responsible use of AI, as well as the development of effective strategies to combat AI-generated misinformation and its potential impact on society.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *