Artificial intelligence has made many advances of late — translating animal language, for instance, or writing the next Game of Thrones. However, the world may have to wait a few more years for AI-created nude paintings, if a recent project is any indication of the technology’s aesthetic.
Robbie Barrat, a recent high school graduate from West Virginia and AI enthusiast, used a type of artificial intelligence called a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) to scan thousands of nude paintings from WikiArt. Using two neural networks, a generator and a discriminator, the GAN essentially mimics distribution of data — from images and music to speech — to create its own versions.
Barrat’s experiment did not go well.
“The GAN didn’t successfully learn how to make realistic nude portraits,” Barrat, 18, told Vice. “The discriminator part of the GAN isn’t really able to tell the difference between blobs of flesh and humans, and once the generator realized it could keep feeding the discriminator blobs of flesh, and fool it this way, both networks just stopped learning how to paint more realistically.”
In short, instead of sensuous curves and limbs, the AI kicked out what looked like birth-defected victims of herbicidal warfare as painted by Salvador Dali. Gizmodo described them as “terrifying pools of melting flesh,” while IFL Science! deemed them “the least sexy thing you’ll ever see.”
It raises the question of whether appreciation of naked human bodies would ever — or could ever — be grasped by AI.
“Usually the machine just paints people as blobs of flesh with tendrils and limbs randomly growing out — I think it’s really surreal,” Barrat tweeted. “I wonder if that’s how machines see us.”
Here are some AI generated nude portraits I've been working on🍑
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
— Robbie Barrat (@DrBeef_) March 27, 2018
Further attempts were equally amorphous, although quite stunning in their own way: