These topics are getting weirder each day. Just like the internet.
If you log in to thispersondoesnotexist.com, you’ll find a picture of a random person. Now we all know that random people on the internet are very difficult to come by. But the thing is, this person is not real.
The website can create an endless stream of fake portraits of people, by use of an AI.
Philip Wang, a software engineer at Uber utilizes research data from tech giant Nvidia and resorts to a complex AI system called a GAN (generative adversarial network). The system can create extremely convincing fake portraits of people. Every time you refresh the page, a very realistic but fake image will be created. Mr. Wang created the page to demonstrate the potential of GANs.
How does it work?
The GAN was theorized in 2014 by scientist Ian Goodfellow. Afterwards, Nvidia has almost singlehandedly progressed with this technology. The GAN uses a massive quantity of real images, running them through a generator and discriminator to produce dummy images. These fakes are made with endless combinations of available data, thus the apparent uniqueness each time. Nvidia’s version of the algorithm named StyleGAN, has recently gone open source, and is seemingly very pliable to work with. Though so far it has only worked on human faces it should be able to work with any source. Yes, even anime.
Needless to say, the technology opens up a multitude of possibilities. The leading consensus is to use it to create vivid virtual worlds. It could bring about significant change in gaming and graphic processes too. And like all other technology, it has the potential to be used in very harmful ways as well. The potential use of it to create pornography by pasting other people’s faces onto source videos is already in limited use by way of deepfakes. It can also be used to create propaganda material very easily, among other things.
Don’t ring the alarm bell yet
It’s too early in the technology’s lifeline to start questioning the moral facets of it. What we need to remember is nuclear energy research didn’t threaten the entire world with devastating war. The decision to turn nuclear energy into warheads did. Nuclear energy research to this day is our one hope of a sustainable future. So before yelling about the Titanic sinking, note that the iceberg isn’t even on the horizon yet.