AI creates cats that don't - and probably shouldn't - exist

Terrifying fake cats
Some of the terrifying cats that should not be. Photo credit: NVIDIA

An artificial intelligence that can create photorealistic images of people that don't exist was recently let loose on cats - without quite the same level of success.

StyleGAN, a type of algorithm called a neural network, made headlines in December when it was fed thousands of photos of real human faces, and spat out images of fake humans indistinguishable from the real thing.

Fake people that look real, created by a computer algorithm.
Fake people that look real, created by a computer algorithm. Photo credit: NVIDIA

But the same algorithm, fed thousands of images of cats, created monsters.

Janelle Shane, a research scientist from Colorado, shared many of the horrors on her blog aiweirdness.com.

These cats don't exist.
These cats don't exist. Photo credit: NVIDIA
Four of the freakish - and fake - felines.
Four of the freakish - and fake - felines. Photo credit: NVIDIA/aiweirdness

She said the algorithm used images pulled from photosharing site Flickr.

"Thanks to that big dataset, a new method of generating images, and a staggering amount of computer power, its human faces are indeed impressive.

"But, to prove that their method doesn't just work for human faces, they also generated bedrooms, and cars… and cats. The cats are so much fun."

The reason many of the 100,000 cat images often came out looking cat-astrophic was that cats "can be in so many different poses", compared to portraits.

"I've noticed that for some reason, whenever it generates kittens, one is normal and the rest are haunted. There must be something difficult about pictures containing multiple subjects."

The 'lolcat' format showed up in the results.
The 'lolcat' format showed up in the results. Photo credit: NVIDIA

Some of the images came back with gibberish text on them, thanks to the popular internet 'lolcat' trend.  Many looked like Tardar Sauce, a cat that found internet fame in 2012 as 'Grumpy Cat'.

'Grumpy Cat'
'Grumpy Cat' showed up in a lot of images too. Photo credit: NVIDIA

"She's only one cat, but she had a profound impact on what StyleGAN thinks cats look like."

The code, and thousands more images of cats that don't - and probably shouldn't - exist are available online.

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