AI-powered Art App
The reality-bending powers of AI have been kept increasingly busy over the past decade. We’ve had computer vision-powered 3D dioramas; trend-setting style-transfer; viral photorealistic selfie-tuning, selfie-retouching, face-swaps and — ofc — deepfakes; and plenty of frivolous (and hilarious) fun with selfie filters (ohhai “Disneyfying” cartoon lens!) in between.
AI-powered visual remixing has shown, again and again, it can grab attention. Although keeping “eyes on” once the novelty of an AI-generated effect wears off can be harder. (Selfie retouching apps don’t have that problem, mind; there’s perpetual demand for machine learning as a reality enhancer.)
What’s most notable about developments in AI-enabled synthetic media over this period is how much speed these visual effects have picked up, helped by ever more powerful mobile processing hardware.
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Wait times for a finished result can now be essentially instant — a game changer for productizing (and potentially monetizing) the creativity and power of neural networks and GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks). Aka, the machine learning frameworks doing the retouching, reframing or indeed generative modelling, jumping off of a human prompt for their inspiration.
And while most of the app-based visual remixing of the past decade has focused on retouching/restyling/augmenting versus pure-play AI-powered image generation, that too is changing.
Every One is an Artist Now
Wombo, a Canadian startup which grabbed earlier eyeballs for its eponymous AI-enabled lipsyncing video app, recently launched another app, called Dream (iOS and Android), which uses AI to create original “artworks” — based on a text prompt.
It’s super, super simple: You simply describe what you want it to paint — say “A terrifying tree” or “The worst sandwich in history” — pick a style from the selection offered (Mystical, Baroque, Fantasy Art, Steampunk, etc.), or opt for “no style”; and hit create.
Then, in literally a few seconds — I counted <20 — the app displays your finished “artwork”.
You can’t even get bored during these few seconds of creation because you get to see a glimpse of the AI at work: The app shows the modelling’s rapid-fire evolution — from starter marks, through a few inhumanly fast additions fleshing out the canvas, to arrive, practically breathless, at another finished composition.
Some of these generated artworks look kinda impressive. Some… not so much.
But of course no two prompts generate the same image. So you can keep asking for a new image from the same prompt until you like the look of what you see.
In short, Christmas card artists and pulp fiction illustrators can probably retire now.
Everyone is an “artist” now.
That said, actual artists should have less to worry about. Not least because art made by a human brain and body is only going to increase in value once the world is awash with “machine art”. (Just as every NFT minted dilutes the meaning of the phrase “digital art”… )
The quality of the Dream app’s “art” is definitely variable. Longer, more complex prompts seem to confound it. So the quality of the output can depend on what you ask it to draw.
AI-powered Art App