In the past decade, advances in artificial intelligence have led to some amazing technology. Chinese police are now using AI to ticket jaywalkers, and who could forget Sophia the Robot’s recent feud with model Chrissy Teigen?
But can true works of art actually be created by a computer? AI scientist Robbie Barrat seems to think so. Barrat, 18, first caught the world’s attention a year ago when he created an AI capable of writing rap songs based on Kayne West lyrics. At the time, he was still a senior in high school.
California-based technology giant Nvidia was impressed enough to hire the teen as soon as he graduated. It was there that Barrat began experimenting with AI-created paintings.
He started with landscapes.
Exploring the latent space of AI-generated landscape paintings today instead of doing work.— Robbie Barrat (@videodrome) March 19, 2018
Please do not tell my manager. pic.twitter.com/vNVsPMnMkz
But it was when he began training an AI to create nude paintings that he, once again, captured the internet’s attention.
Here are some AI generated nude portraits I've been working on🍑— Robbie Barrat (@videodrome) March 27, 2018
Usually the machine just paints people as blobs of flesh with tendrils and limbs randomly growing out – I think it's really surreal. I wonder if that's how machines see us… pic.twitter.com/tYgzCHGfse
Barrat says he used a dataset of thousands of nude portraits to train the AI.
“To generate the images, I used a GAN (generative adversarial network),” he told the Daily Dot via email. “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.”
The results, although surreal, are also easily recognizable as nude bodies, or at least blobs of flesh that look like nude bodies.
things are getting a bit heated 😓 pic.twitter.com/UDJIowfcS1— Robbie Barrat (@videodrome) March 27, 2018
Some more nude portraits where the subjects are standing up straight and not total blobs. pic.twitter.com/bGYOO01hGn— Robbie Barrat (@videodrome) March 27, 2018
The same woman in two different poses. pic.twitter.com/H1D2zsZqfE— Robbie Barrat (@videodrome) March 27, 2018
Barrat admits that even he’s not always sure what the AI is doing or why.
the AI *always* paints heads and faces the same way; with this weird yellow/purple texture. Have no idea why, but I like it. pic.twitter.com/aq8W6GEZUC— Robbie Barrat (@videodrome) March 27, 2018
Larger versions of some of these works are available here, for those who are interested. If you’d rather create your own, Barrat says that will be an option in the near future.
“I am going to make the entire process public and open source on my GitHub soon,” he said. “So that anyone can experiment and make art with these tools (I’m a huge believer in everything open source, since that’s how I was able to teach myself how to work with AI). They’ll be published on github.com/robbiebarrat.“
Although he feels that his AI could eventually paint a realistic nude portrait, (he points out that some of the landscapes he has made using AI have already achieved that goal) he doesn’t feel like that’s the real end game.
“I want to get AI to generate new types of art we haven’t seen before; not force some human perspective on it,” he said. “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 guess what I’m trying to say is that 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 1600’s.”
We’ll look forward to the rise of AI art galleries.