Doing this requires some super-expensive and powerful hardware, but now there’s a website that bypasses that requirement: generating a fancy new face is as easy as refreshing your browser with the aptly-named thispersondoesnotexist.com. Every time you load the page, an algorithm generates a new human face from scratch.
The website uses an implementation of machine learning known as Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs. These programs “learn” from a large number of training inputs—say, real human faces—in order to produce new examples. Thispersondoesnotexist.com uses code previously released by Nvidia researchers on GitHub.
“Most people do not understand how good AIs will be at synthesizing images in the future,” website creator and software developer Philip Wang told me in an email.
GANs were first introduced in 2014 by computer scientist Ian Goodfellow and colleagues. Since then, they’ve grown more capable and can now generate highly realistic images in shockingly high resolution.
These programs have been used to generate videos of people dancing and to transform summer scenes into winter wonderlands. More distressingly, their ready availability has also led to the creation of fake porn videos known as “deepfakes.”
Wang’s website runs on a rented server with a powerful GPU running Nvidia’s software. “I have it dream up a random face every two seconds, and display that to the world in a scalable fashion,” Wang told me. “Nothing fancy.”
Clearly, GANs are versatile things, but Wang said he wanted to stick with faces. “Faces are most salient to our cognition, so I've decided to put that specific pretrained model up,” he said on Facebook.
Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.