This article originally appeared on VICE US
Artists and corporations have used machine learning to generate faces and rooms that don’t exist. Now an artist collective is using a generative adversarial network to create and send feet, sweetie.
Thisfootdoesnotexist.com is a new website that uses an AI to generate fake feet and send them to people who text the bot it has created. It’s fast and easy to use, just text 646-760-8955 and it sends as many feet pics as any horny heart can handle.
A generative adversarial network (GAN) machine learning system generates the feet on demand. GANs are a kind of computer program that learns how to create images by studying inputs—human feet in this case. There’s multiple sites generating fake human faces by studying millions of pictures of real human faces. That means thisfootdoesnotexist trained itself by staring at real human feet pictures. We don’t know at the moment which dataset was used to train the algorithm, though the website does reference Wikifeet, a community of foot fetishists that has a variety of rules, none of which relate to consent of the person whose foot is being uploaded.
It’s also worth noting that most of the generated feet appear to be stereotypically women’s feet.
Motherboard spent the morning playing with the service and received some lovely feet pics. We also received several that were pure nightmare. Feet only David Cronenberg could love.
GAN systems aren’t perfect and the one generating these feet pics seems more concerned with quantity over quality. It’s pumping out two feet pics every time it gets a text. They’re not all going to be winners, or even necessarily discernible as feet.
The text message bot also doesn’t seem to know the meaning of “stop,” and will send feet no matter what you say to it.
So what is the point? Possibly to highlight the commodification of feet pics in our extremely online world. “The foot pic...becomes a commodity which the consumer is willing to pay for on its basis as an intimate, revealing, and/or pornographic (and perhaps power-granting, when provided on request) asset, while the producer may see it as a meme, a dupe, a way to trick the horny-credible out of their ill-spent cash,” the website explained.
The website also rambles on, at length, about French economist Arghri Emmanuel’s Unequal Exchange. That’s because thisfootdoesnotexist is the latest project from MSCHF—a group of professional pranksters jamming our culture on a schedule through 2021. MSCHF previously made headlines with a man who would eat anything people asked him to then post it on YouTube, Nike “Jesus Shoes” filled with Holy Water, and a Slack-based guessing game with cash prizes.