Detroiters Angry Over $400,000 ‘Hollywood’ Style Freeway Sign After Being Tricked by AI-Generated Image

Detroiters Angry Over $400,000 ‘Hollywood’ Style Freeway Sign After Being Tricked by AI-Generated Image

Michigan residents took to social media Wednesday to express outrage, disappointment and zingers over a pricy glamour project installed in honour of Detroit hosting the upcoming NFL draft. Folks felt they were promised a grand “Hollywood” style sign overlooking Detroit’s busiest freeway. What we got were eight-foot tall green letters on two foot tall cement pedestals in the Southwest of the city. However, residents really only have themselves to blame for their disappointment after falling for an AI-generated images that never could have worked in real life.

It’s unclear where the initial AI-generated image even came from, but one thing is for sure—it went viral in the Motor City. Assumptions were made, and we all know what assuming does (it makes an ass out of you and me.) Speaking of asses, Michigan Senate Republicans took to Twitter/X to blame the state’s democrats, which is just about as dumb as thinking this AI-generated sign would ever appear in real life:


OK so, first off—that AI image is so obviously, painfully fake. Look at the weird layout of the freeway, for one. Does that look like something a professional designer would do? There’s no grassy medians on freeways in the city proper, and no tri-directional freeways at all. Not to mention, as anyone with a passing experience with Detroit freeways knows, the placement would have never worked.

The AI image also seems to have the sign installed along I-75, where the freeway is actually sunken anyway with high concrete walls on either side, has extremely steep grass embankments or the freeway is elevated above cross streets and other freeways the further you get from downtown. Along the side of that freeway are factories, warehouses, neighborhoods and other buildings that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. There are no large expanses of green or embankments close enough to the Renaissance Center that would accommodate a sign of this size in such a location, let alone the obvious construction and road closures that would have needed to take place to install a huge sign. The Hollywood sign letters are 30 feet tall. Construction of a similar sign along one of the city’s busiest freeways would have been noticeable months before the NFL draft came to town this April.

All the city did was announce the construction of this sign and a few other improvements. Officials made no grandiose promises, some shady AI image did.

The actual sign was installed along I-94 in Southwest Detroit, fairly close to where trucks cross the Ambassador bridge into and out of Canada. The 10-foot green letters are fine! We probably could have put that $US400,000 to better use, but it’s certainly not the worst thing to ever happen in this city (not by a long shot.)

Detroiters are used to disappointment at this point. Consider the big promises of public transit via streetcars, which fizzled out into a single privately owned streetcar line that only travels 3.3 miles along Woodward Avenue. Or the promised tearing down of I-375—the shortest and most pointless freeway in the U.S.—which was supposed to give the streets back to the people and honor the thriving Black neighbourhood that was destroyed for its construction. The actual plan is to just a busy eight-lane stroad—basically just a freeway but now with crosswalks and benches.

Yes, disappointment is in plentiful supply in Detroit, but this time we only have ourselves to blame.

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