All posts in “Research”

Look into these AI-generated people’s eyes and let the nightmares wash over you

When technology is used to make art, sometimes it produces beautiful results. And other times things get a little … strange.

A new video going around Twitter shows an eerie girl moving her eyes as a cursor moves around on the screen. The thing is … it’s not a real person in the video. 

These beautiful and unsettling videos (okay, they’re more than a little creepy) were made by artist and researcher Branislav Ulicny, who created this AI-generated art by using neural networks combined with two other existing existing technology-based art projects.

“Virtual humans are kinda my obsession, so whenever I stumble upon some interesting data, I try to see what I can make out of it,” Ulicny said in an email. He was inspired by projects like Pickle Cat to work on a similar interactive experience. 

Image: michael tyka

To create this new, unsettling videos, Ulicny used the work of Michael Tyka, an artist who works with neural networks and created a series of AI-generated portraits, as the base portrait.

“It uses a technique called “generative adversarial networks” (“GAN“) where two artificial neural networks are playing an adversarial game: one (the “Generator”) tries to generate increasingly convincing output, while a the second (the “Critic”) tries to learn to distinguish real photos from generated ones. With time, the generated output becomes increasingly realistic, as both adversaries try to outwit each other,” Tyka explained via email. 

In other words: two algorithms work together to improve each other and create the most realistic images possible.

“Using machine learning as an artistic tool is a fascinating and nascent field with many opportunities for experimentation,” says Tyka.

Ulicny then combined the portraits with Yaroslav Ganin’s DeepWarp, a project that uses images and produces “gaze manipulation” or eye movement. Here is an example of DeepWarp in action on a photo of Chris Pine: 

Image: deepwarp

Put together, the two result in an unsettling mix of art and terror:

Image: Branislav Ulicny

The gaze follows the movement of your mouse on desktop or touch on mobile and is creepily accurate. You can try it out for yourself here.

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Tech studio turns your deepest memories into mind-blowing abstract art

Imagine if you could turn your memories and emotions into compelling abstract paintings. 

A London-based creative technology studio, Random Quark, has found a way to visually and directly represent emotions by scanning people’s brains to create awe-inspiring paintings. 

MIT researchers invent clothes that breathe with the help of biological cells


MIT researchers have invented a new type of workout material that can breathe using biological cells. The project, called bioLogic, is essentially a “breathable workout suit” covered in small flaps. The flaps are “lined with live microbial cells that shrink and expand in response to changes in humidity” allowing the entire outfit to act as a reactive sensor to let athletes cool off as needed.

The group released their findings in a new paper.

“These cells are so strong that they can induce bending of the substrate they are coated on,” said lead author and Wen Wang.

Opening and closing flaps isn’t the only thing this system can do.

“We use fluorescence as an example, and this can let people know you are running in the dark. In the future we can combine odor-releasing functionalities through genetic engineering. So maybe after going to the gym, the shirt can release a nice-smelling odor,” said Wang.

The material uses a nonpathogenic strain of E. coli that could swell and shrink in humidity and even fluoresce when you sweat, glowing green as you exert yourself. From the release:

The team printed parallel lines of E. coli cells onto sheets of latex, creating two-layer structures, and exposed the fabric to changing moisture conditions. When the fabric was placed on a hot plate to dry, the cells began to shrink, causing the overlying latex layer to curl up. When the fabric was then exposed to steam, the cells began to glow and expand, causing the latex flatten out. After undergoing 100 such dry/wet cycles, Wang says the fabric experienced “no dramatic degradation” in either its cell layer or its overall performance.

This suggests you will soon have bioluminescent and bioreactive clothing that can be washed, dried, and worn again. The suit works far better than traditional workout wear and the researchers found that “effectively removed sweat from the body and lowered skin temperature” when working out. They’ve added the technology to the running shoe which, obviously, will soon allow E. coli to keep your tootsies nice and cool.

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