Beauty sells. Cynical? Absolutely. But still, we’re all a part of that pact, perhaps even against our best judgment. Of course, you’d choose your most attractive pictures for Tinder. It makes sense to dress well for a job interview. Damn, we’ve built entire industries around good looks. And now, AI can design fake people that will make your heart race. Would you swipe right?
The eerie gallery of fake people born from AI
When the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com went live in 2019, you could easily find yourself obsessively clicking “refresh”. Every time, you’d see the face of another ordinary person. Young, old, maybe a child. Smiling, contemplating, or looking a bit awkward. You can detect emotion in their eyes and imagine what they’ve been through as they blankly stare somewhere into space. Except, of course, there’s no story at all.
These faces are generated by a GAN (generative adversarial network) StyleGAN2. It has the ability to train itself on a set of data and then produce a new set with the same statistics. The mechanism consists of two competitive networks. In the case of photos, the generative network is trained on authentic images and then produces fake ones. The discriminative network evaluates all of them and tries to pinpoint which are fake.
This process repeats itself long enough to fabricate those eerily realistic images of people who don’t exist. Mind you; the possibilities are endless. Besides fake people, you can also look at some pretty weird modern art with no author. Or waste some time on pictures of cats that aren’t real and some (messed-up) rentals created by AI.
Now, researchers took GAN one step further: they trained it to produce faces you’ll personally find attractive.
Your AI-generated prince(ess) charming
The team behind the study admits that it’s challenging to determine what exactly attracts one person to another. It’s a highly subjective and elusive preference, after all. Nevertheless, researchers from the University of Helsinki and Copenhagen University were up for the task. And so AI gave birth to an army of gorgeous fake people based on 200.000 celebrity images.
“While there may be some facial features that seem to be generally preferred across participants, as some generated faces in our experiments look similar to each other, the model really captures personal features,” Tuukka Ruotsalo, an associate professor at the University of Helsinki, told Digital Trends. “There are differences in all generated images. In the most trivial aspect, participants with different gender preferences get faces matching that preference.”
The result was a success: the individually generated images were selected 87% of the time as personally attractive. That’s quite remarkable. Can you imagine that you’d swipe right on that many people on Tinder? Actually, you might. If too many scammers decide to catfish with pictures of AI-generated fake people.
However, as Ruotsalo explained for Digital Trends, the mechanism opens up exciting possibilities. It can help analyze complex issues with an immense impact. “This could help us to understand the kind of features and their combinations that respond to cognitive functions, such as biases, stereotypes, but also preferences and individual differences,” he said.
AI-generated fake people, starring in the next Hollywood blockbuster
You can already buy a fake person on the website Generated.Photos and not worry about copyrights or infringement claims. Folks at ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com are even free.
What’s next? We’ve already seen enough experiments to sense the direction. For example, GANs are able to bring your favorite actors back to life, appearing perfectly, freakishly real in new films. And if beauty sells, fake people brought to life with AI will likely be heavily monetized. For starters, the entertainment and fashion industry can expect quite a shakeup due to these “synthetic humans“.
Movie stars, adult film actors, and models already look like a dream – and now they can be your personally tailored dream.