This Site Uses Deep Learning to Generate Fake Airbnb Listings

The future of the internet is lots and lots of fake stuff.

2. 19. 19 by Jon Christian
Tag Hartman-Simkins
Image by Tag Hartman-Simkins

Fake Beds

There’s a four-bedroom Edinburgh unit with “original wood floors,” listed by Christine. And there’s a two-bathroom apartment in Gainesville with a double sofa bed and open kitchen plan, listed by Michel. A “beautiful apartment” in Berlin has a “floral feeling.” A three-bedroom in Rome includes “utilities and toiletries.”

There’s just one problem with these Airbnb listings: they don’t exist.

Machine Learning

A new website called This Airbnb Does Not Exist uses machine learning to whip up plausible-yet-slightly-incoherent apartment listings — from a description to ersatz photos of the interior. The site’s creator, Christopher Schmidt, was inspired by This Person Does Not Exist, another recent viral site that uses a neural network to generate photos of nonexistent people.

Schmidt trained This Airbnb Does Not Exist’s image generator using a dataset of apartment interiors and its text generator using actual Airbnb listings. The result: fully furnished figments of the digital imagination.


Plausible Enough

Strikingly, Schmidt had little previous experience with machine learning. But by studying similar projects, he said, he was able to pull together a site that generates almost-convincing fictional rooms.

“This means that just about anyone with a couple hours to kill could create something just as compelling as I did,” Schmidt wrote about the project. “While there are parts of the experience that are weak, overall, I think that it works: the listings are often dubious, but typically plausible enough that they would survive a quick glance.”

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