An A.I.-Generated Picture Stokes a Stock Market Plunge

Fake news, real market drop

For a few minutes on Monday, an ominous image of black smoke billowing from what appeared to be a government building near the Pentagon set off investor fears, sending stocks tumbling.

Experts quickly dismissed the picture as a fake, most likely cobbled together with artificial intelligence, and markets swiftly recovered. But it illustrated one of the big fears behind the government’s zeal to regulate A.I.: that the technology could be used to stoke panic and sow disinformation, with potentially disastrous consequences.

It may have been the first time an A.I.-generated image moved markets, according to Bloomberg. The picture — which claimed that an explosion was reported near the Pentagon — first appeared on Facebook. It then quickly spread to Twitter via accounts with large followings, including the financial news site ZeroHedge (which sports a blue check mark via the Twitter Blue subscription service) and the Kremlin-controlled RT.

Within minutes,…

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This article was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Bernhard Warner, Sarah Kessler, Michael J. de la Merced, Lauren Hirsch and Ephrat Livni and originally published on