Meet AttnGAN: A New AI That Creates Nightmarish Images Inspired By Your Words

Monday, 29 October 2018 - 2:22PM
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Artificial Intelligence
Monday, 29 October 2018 - 2:22PM
Meet AttnGAN: A New AI That Creates Nightmarish Images Inspired By Your Words
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Adapted from Pixabay
Creativity has long been the domain of humanity, but a new AI program called AttnGAN may pose a bold (if surreal) challenge to the idea that only humans can create interesting, original images.

Despite its ham-handed attempts at making jokes, AI is learning – neural nets have already learned how to spot people on surveillance footage, synthesize surprisingly realistic images, and even write passable fortune cookie messages. In fact, Christie's auctioned off their first piece of "AI art" for $432,500 recently.

To be clear, AttnGAN (which was created by Microsoft's Deep Learning Technology Center earlier this year) doesn't really fit the definition of "creative." A user can type in a word like "bird" or "cat" and the AI will produce an image that sort of matches it, but the results are more like warped acid trips than something coherent. AttnGAN was trained by looking at images that have been captioned with various words, so it functions sort of like a word association game. The difference is that it isn't trying to match a given word with an image it's seen before – it's trying to create a new image based on the images it's seen before.

AttnGAN is a type of neural network that's distinct from the type we normally see. Right now, we're most familiar with discriminative neural networks, which looks at data or an image and attempt to label it accurately. For example, a discriminative neural net could look at a picture of a stop sign and identify it as a traffic sign. GANs, or generative adversarial networks, work on achieving the opposite: taking a label and producing something that matches it. The "adversarial" part comes from the training method, in which two neural nets compete against one another to complete tasks.

Right now, no AI can really claim to be "creative," though there are plenty of AI artists out there who use it as a tool to create art. Like most AIs, AttnGAN is a fun novelty for now, but its potential seems almost limitless.
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