As you are reading this, you’re probably locked down under quarantine for several weeks already and you don’t have much to do. It’s likely that you were thinking about doing something creative with your time, like drawing or making music, but you were never really into that and you feel too lazy to learn. If my guess is correct, I have some good news for you. Newest Artificial Intelligence technology is here to help. In this post, I will describe three awesome tools that enable you to channel you imagination and create something beautiful in collaboration with an AI. I will get a bit technical in the descriptions, but don’t worry, you don’t need to understand that to use the tools. They don’t require any programming knowledge or special skills. The only thing you need is an open mind and a dose of courage.
The website artbreeder.com is a cool new project that lets you create beautiful, dream-like art by making mixtures of pictures and ideas. It gives you the possibility to explore and interact in a simple way with a brilliant technology of Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs.
If you’re not familiar with it, here is a quick explanation. GAN is a technology created for synthesizing images, based on an interaction between two neural networks. The program is given a set of images, for example depicting dogs. One of the networks tries to create a picture that looks as if it comes from that set. The other one, given that image has to judge whether that image is real or generated. They have opposite tasks, and when they try to outsmart each other, they learn really well how to generate and recognize images of various objects. If you train your network on, for example, dogs and pandas, you can use the learned representations to create something that tries to look as a dog and a panda simultaneously, which results in a beautiful pandog, like this one:
Artbreeder is built on top of BigGAN, a huge generative network trained on 150 GB dataset of pictures, with dozens of different classes including animals, plants, buildings and everyday objects. Later they expanded by adding new models based on landscapes, faces, album covers, anime girls and recently, video game characters. Each picture you create has an internal representation in a continuous space of possible pictures. You can freely move around that space, which means that you can create a mix of a cat, a cauliflower and a jellyfish and adjust with sliders how much of each you want. These sliders also take negative values, which means you can see how the opposite of a cat looks like according to the network. The community aspect of the website is very important — you can take existing pictures and change them by adding new components or mixing them together. Every image has its history available, letting us trace back what it was bred from.
The images created by the network look very bizarre and surreal, in a way that makes them fascinating. It creates objects that often resemble something, but nothing you could name and identify, residing in the fuzzy space in-between, open for interpretations. I have a feeling they somehow touch the deep, unconscious parts of my mind, the same way weird, incomprehensible dreams do.
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If now you are interested in trying Artbreeder yourself, check this video with a more detailed introduction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlrMkHaCosw&feature=emb_title