Last year, AI-generated porn swept through the internet to the shock and horror of even Reddit, which quickly banned face-swapped porn from the site. AI has generally been given a large amount of leeway, with targeted outrage toward Alexa listening in dissolving in the general news cycle, but putting celebrity faces on porn was the clear line to draw, as robots can’t quite yet distinguish what’s morally okay (because people can’t either). Pornhub and Twitter followed suit in banning deepfakes, banishing them no doubt to some uglier sliver of the internet.
But how do we feel about AI-generated … nudes?
Twitter user @DrBeef_, also known as Robbie Barrat, a self-proclaimed artist working with machine learning, went viral a few days ago with this collection of AI generated nude portraits:
In his own words, they’re “really surreal.” It feels somewhere in the realm of Salvador Dalí-esque melting clocks and warm tones, and another Twitter user calls it “A kind of Francis Bacon / Sol Lewitt mashup that investigates the latent space of flesh as expressed through a global history of representation.” Translated: This is what robots think humans look like naked based on historical artistic representations of nudes. Which actually are not terribly global, but canonical (i.e., mostly white, mostly Western), though Barrat’s looking to fix that. Barrat collected images “from WikiArt — they’re all nude portraits but they’re from different time frames,” essentially gathering ideas of what humans portray a nude body to be and then mashing them up into mesmerizing swirls of bodyish shapes via computer.
AI-generated art isn’t new to the scene — New York’s own art critic Jerry Saltz appeared on Vice to offer his professional take on computer art. He was not impressed, but other people seem to like it more than art made by living humans.