Computer-generated image does not show Elon Musk with ‘robot wife’

·4 min read

Social media users in Nigeria and Ethiopia claim images show tech mogul Elon Musk with a ‘robot wife’ scheduled for commercial release in September 2023.  But the photos are fake; the artist who originally created the images shared them on social media and clearly labelled them as computer-generated.

“Elon Musk and his company are on the final stages of making a Robot Wife. The supply of Robot Wives is expected to roll out in September 2023. They will reach Africa by November 2023 (sic),” reads part of a Facebook post published on May 16, 2023.

<span>A screenshot of the false post, taken on May 25, 2023 </span>
A screenshot of the false post, taken on May 25, 2023

The post, shared more than 13,000 times, includes photos of Musk kissing and dancing with different “robot wives”.

They have human-like faces, but their bodies appear to be a mix of metal and other human-like features.

The user also claims that Musk’s “robot wives” will run on batteries “in accordance with the menstrual cycle”, cost around $3,000, and will be password or fingerprint-protected.

“This is a depopulation strategy. Beware the new world order are very keen…This are signs of the END TIME (sic),” reads one of the comments under the post.

Other comments take on a distinctly misogynistic tone.

“Finally God has a plan for us boys! I want a deaf one,” reads another comment.

Similar posts were shared elsewhere on Facebook and Twitter.

But the claim that Musk and his company are working on a “robot wife” is false.

AI-generated

Using a reverse image search, AFP Fact Check found the images were originally shared (archived here) by a Facebook user named “Guerrero Art” on May 3, 2023 on a page called “AI Art Universe”.

The page describes itself as a place for “those who share a passion for using AI in your work”.

<span>Screenshot of the original post, taken on May 24 2023 </span>
Screenshot of the original post, taken on May 24 2023

AI refers to artificial intelligence, which can be used to create realistic images.

Some realistic images of news events have already been mistaken for real ones and shared on social media platforms, including AI-generated images of former president Donald Trump getting arrested and the Pope wearing a stylish puffer jacket.

On Guerrero Art’s personal page, they refer to themselves as a “digital creator” and regularly post AI-generated images, including several from May 21, 2023 showing Musk with a different style robot (archived here) and a flying car.

The post with the flying car includes the name of Guerrero Art’s Instagram account (archived here).

<span>Screenshot of the original post highlighting the Instagram username, taken on May 24, 2023 </span>
Screenshot of the original post highlighting the Instagram username, taken on May 24, 2023

Some of the same robot photos appear on their Instagram with hashtags such as #ai, #aiartwork, and #aicommunity.

In a comment under the Instagram post, a user asks which tool was used to create the images, to which Guerrero Art responded, “Midjourney”.

Midjourney is an AI tool that generates images based on text prompts entered by the users. This YouTube video explains how it is done.

Screenshot of the original post and highlighted comment, taken on May 24, 2023

In their original Facebook post, Guerrero Art even listed the specific prompts they used to create the images along with the caption, “the real reason why Elon Musk wants to regulate AI”.

<span>Screenshot of the original post with highlighted Midjourney prompt, taken on May 24, 2023</span>
Screenshot of the original post with highlighted Midjourney prompt, taken on May 24, 2023

Moreover, when zooming into the image, we noticed inconsistencies and defects typical of artificially-generated images.

For example, the fingers on the right hand of the “robot wife” are distorted, with the ring finger seemingly split at the top.

<span>Screenshot of the AI-generated image and highlighted hand, taken on May 24 2023 </span>
Screenshot of the AI-generated image and highlighted hand, taken on May 24 2023

Learn more about how to spot AI-generated images here.

Tesla Bot

Musk owns the tech company Tesla which is working on a humanoid robot (archived here) “capable of performing unsafe, repetitive, or boring tasks,” according to their website.

The tech company announced on May 16, 2023 that the “Tesla Bot” can now walk slowly and pick up objects.

But there is nothing on their site about creating a “robot wife,” and the robots pictured in Tesla’s promotional materials do not have any human facial features.