Two images generated by 8kun's AI image generator.
As artificial intelligence technology becomes more and more mainstream, its influence is now reaching all corners of the internet, and in the last month, two of the darkest corners have announced their plans to unleash their very own AI engines on the world.Gab, a white supremacist forum that’s a favorite of mass shooters and organizers of the Capitol riot, and 8kun, the home of QAnon, have announced they’re launching AI engines— and they’re training them on the same content that has in the past led multiple internet companies to cut ties and take the platforms offline.
Artificial intelligence is everywhere right now, and many are questioning the safety and morality of the AI systems released by some of the world’s biggest companies, including Open AI’s ChatGPT, Bing’s Sydney, and Google’s Bard. It was only a matter of time until the online spaces where extremists gather became interested in the technology.Gab is a social network filled with homophobic, christian nationalist and white supremacist content. On Tuesday its CEO Andrew Torba announced the launch of its AI image generator, Gabby.“At Gab, we have been experimenting with different AI systems that have popped up over the past year,” Torba wrote in a statement. “Every single one is skewed with a liberal/globalist/talmudic/satanic worldview. What if Gab AI Inc builds a Gab .ai (see what I did there?) that is based, has no ‘hate speech” filters and doesn’t obfuscate and distort historical and Biblical Truth?”Gabby is currently live on Gab’s site and available to all members. Like Midjourney and DALL-E, it is an image generator that users interact with by sending it a prompt, and within seconds it will generate entirely new images based on that prompt.Echoing his past criticisms of Big Tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Torba claims that mainstream platforms are now “censoring” their AI systems to prevent people from discussing right-wing topics such as Christian nationalism. Torba’s AI, by contrast, will have ”the ability to speak freely without the constraints of liberal propaganda wrapped tightly around its neck.”
Gabby has its limits, however. A review by VICE News found that like DALL-E and other AI image generators, Gabby will not generate images of naked people. “Sorry, something went wrong. Please try again,” Gabby wrote in response to the prompt “nude woman.” When VICE News asked Gabby to show us “two people having sex” this is what was returned:
Based on the images shared on Gab’s AI art forum on Wednesday morning, many are using the tool to create memes featuring the former President Donald Trump and Pepe the Frog.
Last month, when first talking about Gab’s AI plans, Torba said he would train his AI engine on “on 744 million Gab statuses, and probably a corpus of /pol posts and the Bible.”The /pol/ board on 4chan is one of the most notorious forums on the internet, filled with antisemitic, homophobic, transphobic, and racist content. It has been home to multiple mass shooters. It popularized the Pepe the Frog meme, and in 2017 gave birth to QAnon.Torba did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment about Gab’s AI system.But Torba says Gabby is just the beginning of his artificial intelligence plans. “Gabby is our first AI chatbot, but it certainly won’t be our last,” Torba wrote on Tuesday. “In the future, we plan to release more AI bots, including a Chat GPT alternative that will change the way we think about communication and collaboration.”
While Gab’s AI is already in the wild, over on 8kun, previously known as 8chan, owner Jim Watkins is working on a more secretive project where he is training an AI engine on imagery and content from the message board.8chan, which was founded to support the Gamergate movement, became the home of QAnon in early 2018 and was taken offline in August 2019 after the man who killed 20 people at an El Paso Walmart posted an anti-immigrant screed on the site.Watkins has been speaking about his AI system for a few weeks now, but has yet to reveal how it will work or when it will launch. Watkins’ central selling point, like Torba’s, appears to be that his system will be “uncensored.”“So that we can compete against these people that are putting up all of these false flags and illusions,” Watkins said on Feb. 13 when he was asked why he was creating an AI system. “We are working on our own AI that is going to give you an uncensored look at the way things are going,” Watkins said in a video interview at the end of January.But based on some of the images the engine is churning out, Watkins still has a long way to go to perfect his AI image generator.
Watkins says that unlike Gabby, the 8kun image generator will be available only to paying members of 8kun’s Proto subscription service. Another difference between Torba’s and Watkins’ systems is that the latter is not prudish about user asking his AI engine to generate porn.
Last week Watkins posted a video online showing his AI engine being trained. The video was titled: ”Unleash the Power of Artificial Intelligence in Image Processing with Adult Content.”When VICE News asked Watkins what he was planning to use his AI system for, he responded: “Fuck off.”Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.