From The Washington Post:
Artificial intelligence start-ups are selling images of computer-generated faces that look like the real thing, offering companies a chance to create imaginary models and “increase diversity” in their ads without needing human beings.
One firm is offering to sell diverse photos for marketing brochures and has already signed up clients, including a dating app that intends to use the images in a chatbot. Another company says it’s moving past AI-generated headshots and into the generation of full, fake human bodies as early as this month.
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But AI experts worry that the fakes will empower a new generation of scammers, bots and spies, who could use the photos to build imaginary online personas, mask bias in hiring and damage efforts to bring diversity to industries. The fact that such software now has a business model could also fuel a greater erosion of trust across an Internet already under assault by disinformation campaigns, “deepfake” videos and other deceptive techniques.
Elana Zeide, a fellow in artificial intelligence, law and policy at the University of California at Los Angeles’s law school, said the technology “showcases how little power and knowledge users have in terms of the reality of what they see online.”
“There’s no objective reality to compare these photos against,” she said. “We’re used to physical worlds with sensory input … but with this, we don’t have any instinctive or taught responses on how to detect what’s real and what isn’t. It’s exhausting.”
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Icons8, an Argentina-based design firm that sells digital illustrations and stock photos, launched its online business Generated.photos last month, offering “worry-free, diverse models on-demand using AI.”
The site allows anyone to filter fake photos based on age (from “Infant” to “Elderly”), ethnicity (including “White,” “Latino,” “Asian” and “Black”) and emotion (“Joy,” “Neutral,” “Surprise”), as well as gender, eye color and hair length. The system, however, shows a number of odd gaps and biases: For instance, the only available skin color for infants is white.
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Companies infamously have embarrassed themselves through haphazard diversity-boosting attempts, Photoshopping a black man into an all-white crowd, as the University of Wisconsin-Madison did on an undergraduate booklet, or superimposing women into group photos of men.
But while the AI start-ups boast a simple fix — offering companies the illusion of diversity, without working with a diverse set of people — their systems have a crucial flaw: They mimic only the likenesses they’ve already seen. Valerie Emanuel, a Los Angeles-based co-founder of the talent agency Role Models Management, said she worried that these kinds of fake photos could turn the medium into a monoculture, in which most faces look the same.
“We want to create more diversity and show unique faces in advertising going forward,” Emanuel said. “This is homogenizing one look.”
Icons8 created its faces first by taking tens of thousands of photos of about 70 models in studios around the world, said Ivan Braun, the company’s founder. Braun’s colleagues — who work remotely across the United States, Italy, Israel, Russia and Ukraine — then spent several months preparing a database, cleaning the images, labeling data and organizing the photos to the computer’s precise specifications.
With those images at the ready, engineers then used an AI system known as StyleGAN to output a flood of new photos, generating 1 million images in a single day. His team then selected the 100,000 most convincing images, which were made available for public use. More will be generated in the coming months.
The company, Braun said, signed three clients in its first week: an American university, a dating app and a human-resources planning firm. Braun declined to name the clients.
Link to the rest at The Washington Post
PG went to Generated Photos to look for faces.
Surprised Adult Asian
Visitors will come to their own conclusions, but if PG were using this type of image for anything commercial, he would make it very small.
And when you look at a group of these photos, they can seem a little creepy: