Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Meet the Fake Celebrities Dreamed Up by AI

October 31, 2017

We now have the perfect solution for celebrity obsession: an algorithm that conjures up new famous faces on demand.

Researchers at Nvidia created the celeb-generating algorithm using a clever new machine-learning technique. The faces are dreamed up using a more efficient version of what’s known as a generative adversarial network (or GAN).

A GAN consists of two neural networks, both trained using a particular data set. One network then tries to generate synthetic examples to fool the other network into thinking they came from the original data set. The process helps the first network improve its ability to produce realistic data.

GANs were invented by Google researcher Ian Goodfellow (who is also one of our 35 Innovators Under 35 for 2017), and they have proved remarkably effective for synthesizing realistic-sounding speech and all sorts of dazzling imagery. They could prove very useful for generating animated graphics for video games, and for compressing video more efficiently.

In a paper (PDF) submitted to an upcoming conference, the Nvidia researchers claim to have developed a better GAN by having it start off working with low-resolution images, and gradually increasing the image resolution as well as the size of the networks involved. They fed their GAN a data set of celebrity faces, and it produced some very realistic-looking faces (you can check out a video of the research here).

One thing to note, however, is that a few of the images feature strange artifacts and features, like a missing eyebrow or teeth in the wrong place—not exactly things that would get you a gig on reality TV. This goes to show that even if machine learning can produce amazing visual trickery, it lacks the deeper intelligence required to make sense of the real world.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

Yann LeCun
Yann LeCun

Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI

One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.

flower with textin multiple languages on the petals
flower with textin multiple languages on the petals

Inside a radical new project to democratize AI

A group of over 1,000 AI researchers has created a multilingual large language model bigger than GPT-3—and they’re giving it out for free.

screenshot from Gran Turismo
screenshot from Gran Turismo

Sony’s racing AI destroyed its human competitors by being nice (and fast)

What Gran Turismo Sophy learned on the racetrack could help shape the future of machines that can work alongside humans, or join us on the roads.

open source protein models concept
open source protein models concept

DeepMind has predicted the structure of almost every protein known to science

And it’s giving the data away for free, which could spur new scientific discoveries.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.