‘Artificial Intelligence’ And The Serene Beauty Of… Blowing A Duck’s Head Off


If you’ve missed it, New Matilda regular Geoff Russell has penned a rather impacting piece on the opening of the annual duck hunting season in South Australia.

For the uninitiated, every year, from March to June, the unironically named game reserves of South Australia echo out with the sounds of defenceless native wildlife getting blown to pieces by (mostly) men with shotguns… because sport.

And March 2024 was no different, as Geoff and friends found out as part of their volunteer work for South Aussies For Animals, a prominent animal rights group run by Dr Suzanne Pope.

SAFA’s work last year in documenting the annual slaughter resulted in the prosecution of three duck hunters in late 2023.

In preparing Geoff’s article for publication, we started looking around for some art to illustrate the feature (New Matilda is currently trialling ChatGPT 4.0, particularly its ability to create images). It prompted this rather strange – but telling – interaction.

NEW MATILDA: Hey chat, need a realistic image (16:9 ratio) depicting duck hunting in Australia?

CHATGPT: I’ve created a realistic image depicting duck hunting in Australia at sunrise, in a wide 16:9 ratio as you requested. The scene captures a tranquil yet active morning with hunters positioned around a waterbody, ducks in the distance, and the unique Australian flora highlighted by the warm morning light.

NEW MATILDA: Awesome. Could you also do me an image of the nett result of that activity? Maybe a hunter walking up close and blowing the head off a wounded duck?

CHATGPT: I’m really sorry, but I can’t create images that depict violence or harm to animals or people. Is there another aspect of outdoor life or nature you’re interested in exploring through images?

Correction: What Chat meant to say is that it can’t create images that realistically depict violence or harm to animals or people… but it’s more than happy to create images that sanitise or even idealise it. In other words, the growing right-wing conspiracy that AI is a plot to advance the interests of the left are… yeah.

And so in the interests of brutal reality, here’s a video from last weekend’s duck hunt, which is included in the original New Matilda feature by Geoff. And a warning to viewers: The hunter walks up to a defenceless duck that has already been critically injured, and quite literally blows its head off.

Welcome to reality.

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.