These are going viral for all the wrong reasons.

Grotesque Simulacrum

Generative AI has now made it possible to turn any image into a video — and naturally, people are shoving memes into the machine and producing monstrosities.

To be fair, there have been other AI image-to-video generators before, but none so buzzy — or bizarre — as the new offering from Stability AI, the company responsible for the Stable Diffusion image generator, which has over the past few days been the site of some truly uncanny concoctions.

In one animation of the "distracted boyfriend" meme, for instance, the primary man's face starts to glitch out, while the face of the other woman in the foreground starts to shrink and then elongate like something out of a Miyazaki film.

In another iteration, the man can be heard whistling at the woman who is not his girlfriend, and as she turns around to see who is catcalling her, a cardigan appears where there wasn't one before — which, to be fair, would be a great trick IRL when getting street harassed.

Not creepy enough? Try on for size, if you will, the animated rendition of the ancient "overly attached girlfriend" meme, which is actually pretty smooth compared to the previous ones but also that much more "unsettling" for it.

Behind the Throne

Interestingly, Stability's new AI tool, known as Stable Video Diffusion, was dropped on the heels of some pretty major drama at the firm.

Just a few weeks ago, Stability's former audio VP, Ed Newton-Rex, wrote for the blog Music Business Worldwide that he was quitting the company over disagreements about what counts as "fair use" AI training data. Stability, Newton-Rex claims, believes that it's fine to use copyrighted material to train its tools, while the AI audio expert who invented his own royalty-free AI music composer a decade ago understandably disagreed.

Newton-Rex isn't the only person to leave the company recently, either.

Back in August, Bloomberg reported that along with the software's rising popularity amid 2023's boom in generative AI interest, Stability had also been bleeding talent as its chief information officer, chief operating officer, head of research, and VP of engineering all left the company. At the heart of the executive exodus is Stability's bombastic CEO Emad Mostaque, who has claimed that he was an MI6 spy and was revealed in a Forbes exposé to not hold the Oxford degree he said he'd attained.

For all those issues, the company clearly is doing something right if so many people are jumping to use its video generator, which is only available for research purposes to a select invite-only crowd for the time being.

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