When a mysterious Reddit post pointed me to ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com, I expected to find a blog about a person’s quest to get off the grid — perhaps like Kashmir Hill’s weekly attempt to cut a tech corporation out of her life for Gizmodo.
Instead, I saw this:
“Oh,” I said out loud. I refreshed the page and the woman was gone, replaced by an equally uncanny, AI-generated image of a person — and absolutely zero explanation. (If you’re having a hard time spotting the errors, look at her teeth.)
A person who says they created the site popped up on Hacker News to explain what was going on. The website cycles through the results of a type of algorithm called a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN), which basically means that two AI systems duel each other to create a realistic imitation of something — whether it’s a caricature, a level of DOOM, or a person’s portrait.
In this case, the GAN was built by Intel researchers and trained on photos of people’s faces, according to research published to the preprint server ArXiv last week that the author shared in the Hacker News post. However, the same algorithm has also been trained on images of anime faces and paintings, resulting in terrifying animations.
The results are far from perfect — one AI-generated woman’s face was covered in red, worm-like streaks.
A man had what seemed to be a black hole swirling around in his neck. And then there’s this one below, where a woman’s hat seems to exert such a powerful gravitational force that it ripped a hole in the background. But aside from the occasional body horror errors, they look pretty good.
Try it Out: This Person Does Not Exist
More on GANs: Here’s What AI Thinks A Bunch of Famous People Look Like