Scientists aghast at bizarre AI rat with huge genitals in peer-reviewed article

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2024-02-15

An actual laboratory rat, who is intrigued.

Enlarge / An actual laboratory rat, who is intrigued. (credit: Getty | Photothek)

Appall and scorn ripped through scientists' social media networks Thursday as several egregiously bad AI-generated figures circulated from a peer-reviewed article recently published in a reputable journal. Those figures—which the authors acknowledge in the article's text were made by Midjourney—are all uninterpretable. They contain gibberish text and, most strikingly, one includes an image of a rat with grotesquely large and bizarre genitals, as well as a text label of "dck."

On Thursday, the publisher of the review article, Frontiers, posted an "expression of concern," noting that it is aware of concerns regarding the published piece. "An investigation is currently being conducted and this notice will be updated accordingly after the investigation concludes," the publisher wrote.

The article in question is titled "Cellular functions of spermatogonial stem cells in relation to JAK/STAT signaling pathway," which was authored by three researchers in China, including the corresponding author Dingjun Hao of Xi’an Honghui Hospital. It was published online Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology.

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