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Pic That Appears to Be Taken Inside a 1980s McDonald's Sweeps Internet Before Someone Finally Spots It

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Remember the early days on the internet, when everyone was excited about the new possibilities inherent in this previously unthinkable technology before it quickly degenerated into a hotbed of scams, smut, and liberal propaganda?

A recent viral photo making the rounds on the internet may provide a peek into AI’s future in that regard.

The image, originally shared on the social media platform X, purports to show a man smoking at a table of a McDonald’s in 1989, prompting reminisces of a better, cheaper time, and good-natured ribbing of fashion trends and hairstyles of yore.

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Though the original tweet racked up over 22 million views, it didn’t take long for users to notice a few odd details about the image.

One user commented, “Why does his shirt have sleeves but no chest?” to which the original poster playfully replied, “Because he’s so manly that his chest hair overtook the cloth.”

Did this photo fool you?

More strange details become more obvious the closer you look: The sign in back of the picture reads “Modlidani” rather than McDonald’s. The logo on his cup is some garbled facsimile of Coca-Cola. The man’s fingers and hands are misshapen, and the face of the man sitting in the background is similarly squashed in unnatural ways.

In case it’s not yet obvious, the image was AI generated — something the original user actually happily admitted.

As Granddaddy Jeff, an artist in his own right, responded to a comment “you should see the Ronald McDonald rendered with this. Aint worried about AI taking my job.”

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Even so, the picture had a lot of people on X, and all over the internet, fooled.

Admittedly, on first glance the picture is pretty convincing, fitting decently into our mental image of a 1989 McDonald’s and looking real enough to satisfy the casual observer.

It’s only when stopping to study the image that the telltale AI hallmarks (the garbled text, the misshapen hands and faces, the wrong restaurant name) become obvious.

And this highlights a growing problem.

Most people are pretty tech literate now and can easily spot common internet scams, but anyone who knows anything about technology knows it’s constantly changing in radical ways.

Landlines were still a standard feature in homes less than 20 years ago, and teenagers now go on TikTok recommending we create the landline without realizing it already exists and has long become obsolete.

Someone who could recognize scams and frauds five years ago might find themselves hopelessly lost only a couple years from now.

Right now AI is mostly being used for fun, or for harmless low-level scams like this, to highlight the technology’s artistic inadequacies.

The time is probably not too far off, however, when it becomes sophisticated enough to use for more sinister criminal enterprises, as we’re starting to see with AI deepfake porn and Google’s AI trying to erase white people from history.

It’s a fun little lark now, but many people initially thought the same about the internet — and look where we are now.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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