Friday 24 January 2020

This guy used AI to make nude art and it is terrifying and intriguing at the same time

The portraits are 0% erotic.

By Nilima Marshall, Press Association

Artificial intelligence can do a lot of things these days – from identifying people with depression by scanning their Instagram posts to almost accurately predicting which embryos will result in IVF success.

But when it comes to nude art, this particular AI has a lot to learn.

Trained by Robbie Barrat, who is from West Virginia and is currently working in a research lab at Stanford University, the AI was meant to produce classical-style nude paintings but what it delivered was unnerving and borderline creepy.

But it was also intriguing at the same time.

Mr Barrat used what is called the Progressive Growing of GANs (generative adversarial network) to enable AI to create the images.

He said: “The basic idea in terms of how it works is that there are two neural networks, the generator and the discriminator, which make up the GAN.

“The generator tries to generate paintings that fool the discriminator, and the discriminator tries to learn how to tell the difference between ‘fake’ paintings that the generator feeds it and real paintings from the dataset of nude portraits.

“The two components are always trying to fool each other, and as time goes on, the generator gets better and better at making new paintings, and the discriminator gets better and better at spotting generated paintings.”

Based on this method, the AI should have mastered classical painting so why do the pieces look so, er, unsettling?

Mr Barrat said: “What happened with the nude portraits is that the generator figured it could just feed the discriminator blobs of flesh, and the discriminator wasn’t able to tell the difference between strange blobs of flesh and humans, so since the generator could consistently fool the discriminator by painting these strange forms of flesh instead of realistic nude portraits.”

The results may be jarring, but it certainly caught the attention of Twitter.

While perfecting the nude art may seem a long way off, Mr Barrat’s AI appeared to fare better with landscapes.

However, he believes AI replicating “human” art isn’t as exciting as generating surreal paintings.

He said: “AI can already make some art that would pass as ‘human-made’, but I think that’s quite boring.

“If the AI I trained learned how to make realistic nude portraits it wouldn’t be as exciting as the surreal bags of meat it paints, because everyone has already seen so many regular nude portraits before.

“I want to use AI to make its own new and original things, not just get AI to mimic things that people were making in the 1600s.”

PA Media

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