Report of Actor Dying of Cosmetic Surgery Appears to be AI Hoax

    Report of Actor Dying of Cosmetic Surgery Appears to be AI Hoax
    Last updated Apr 28, 2023
    Image credit: Instagram/papaxxzy [via Al Jazeera]


    • A report that 22-year-old Canadian-Portuguese actor, singer, and songwriter, Saint Von Colucci, died after undergoing 12 plastic surgeries — worth over $200k — to look like K-pop star Jimin appears to be a hoax, as it's now believed the celebrity was the creation of artificial intelligence (AI), according to Al Jazeera.
    • News of the alleged death and surgeries gained notoriety following a Daily Mail story published on April 24, which was later picked up by other agencies. The British-based news outlet has since removed the story without issuing a retraction.
    • The report spawned from two press releases sent directly to journalists around the globe by a group called HYPE Public Relations, which claimed Colucci — who allegedly felt discriminated against due to his "Western traits" — died on April 23 in a South Korean hospital.
    • However, links included in the press release, such as Colucci's supposed Instagram account and the hospital where he died, were found not to exist. Adding to suspicion, Hype's website, which listed WeWork offices in London and Toronto as its headquarters, was only registered a few weeks before Colucci's alleged death.
    • One of the releases was sent from a PR affiliated with "GoPapaMedia," with a domain registered in Toronto under "Sait Lucci," with another one registered in Massachusetts being used to announce the actor’s death at the believed-fictional "Seoul National Hospital."
    • Al Jazeera also concluded that Colucci was the product of a fictitious prank due to his small presence online — despite allegedly being a famous actor — alongside images of him being blurred and containing deformed hands, a typical sign of AI use.


    Narrative A

    Though this story has provided entertainment for readers and generated clicks for media outlets, the dark truth is that this perfectly displays the perilous state our journalistic institutions are in. The red flags were everywhere from the beginning, but the Daily Mail chose to run an obviously phony story simply because it garnered website clicks. No matter the story, journalists are supposed to scrutinize each piece of information they receive before publishing it as fact.

    Narrative B

    While it is still relatively easy to spot fake images online, the time will come when even expert journalists won't be able to tell the difference between AI-generated pictures and stories. While silly fake celebrity stories may not affect the public too much, the danger comes when the most serious of issues in public debate are a confusing mix of truth and indiscernible lies.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that AI will first pass a long, informed, adversarial Turing test by October 2033, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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