You may have noticed a new trend taking over your Instagram feed. Your friends transform into anime-like characters with an artificial intelligence app, Lensa.
Not only our friends but millions of people from all over the world, from Hollywood celebrities to global influencers, share their fascinating avatar portraits with impressive backgrounds on their social media accounts.
Celebrities like Chance The Rapper, Jimmy Fallon, Lilly Singh, Deepika Padukone, and even Britney Spears’ new husband, Sam Asghari, have all followed the trend and shared their epic AI-generated avatars on Instagram.
What is this AI art about, and how long has it been around?
The history of AI art dates back to 1973 when American computer scientist Harold Cohen created the first-ever AI painting using a program called AARON.
a GAN-generated painting: Edmond de Belamy
In 2014, generative adversarial networks (GANs) were developed. GANs can be used to generate realistic images, such as portraits, and in the world of AI art, GANs have been used to create gorgeous pieces of artwork. For example, a GAN-generated painting called Edmond de Belamy was sold for $432,500 at a 2018 auction.
So, what exactly is AI Art? In short, it is artwork (visual, audio, or otherwise) generated by a machine learning process—that is, a machine has “learned” some information and used it to generate a new image. Humans may have collected the data or written instructions for the machine to use, but the creation process is left to the machine.
A brand-new perspective to digital art: Lensa AI Avatars
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Lensa is a photo editing app made by Prisma Labs Company. It has been around since 2018. However, its popularity jumped in late November when its Magic Avatars’ launched. It is reported that more than 13 million installs were made in the first weeks of December.
It is no surprise that this feature goes viral because it allows users to turn their selfies into AI-generated digital works of art in various themes, from pop to fairy princesses, to anime, in 10 minutes.
To try it, download the app, open the magic avatar, and upload your selfies. With a few clicks and $3.99 for 50 avatars, $5.99 for 100 avatars, and $7.99 for 200 avatars, your stunning digital look is ready! ‘No worries’ says the company regarding privacy; the avatars and personal pictures used to make them are deleted from their servers immediately.
The ethical aspect: Is it art or cheating?
Although the feature went viral and attracts new users daily, some concerns about AI-generated artwork also came to light. Some claim that AI-generated images were stolen from real digital artists. Some have concerns about artificial intelligence replacing art with real artists.
Prisma Labs responded to these claims and tweeted to address concerns about AI art replacing art with actual artists.
“the growing accessibility of AI-powered tools would only make man-made art in its creative excellence more valued and appreciated.” said the company. They remained silent about the claims of stolen art from real digital artists.
The ethical side is quite complex and controversial. The questions will likely bother us for a long time. But one thing is for sure, despite all, art generated by AI is here to stay.