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The Pixel 8 and the what-is-a-photo apocalypse

Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

One of the first known photo fakes, a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, was made just decades after the dawn of photography itself. Since then, photographers have found themselves in endless arguments about what truly constitutes a photo — what’s real, what’s fake, and when is editing too much? Now, as we head into an era where AI-powered tools are everywhere and easily accessible, the discussion is going to be messier than ever. And with the Pixel 8, Google has turned the question of “what is a photo” right on its head.

Google has been leading smartphone photography down this path for many years now. The company pioneered the concept of computational photography, where smartphone cameras do a huge amount of behind-the-scenes processing to…

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