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Home / Cyril Morong: Dangerous Economist / What if companies can’t afford real models for their ads? Use AI generated fake pictures

What if companies can’t afford real models for their ads? Use AI generated fake pictures

Summary:
See Dating apps need women. Advertisers need diversity. AI companies offer a solution: Fake people by Drew Harwell of Washington Post. Excerpts: "Artificial intelligence start-ups are selling images of computer-generated faces that look like the real thing, offering companies a chance to create imaginary models and “increase diversity” in their ads without needing human beings. One firm is offering to sell diverse photos for marketing brochures and has already signed up clients, including a dating app that intends to use the images in a chatbot." "Icons8, an Argentina-based design firm that sells digital illustrations and stock photos, launched its online business Generated.photos last month, offering “worry-free, diverse models on-demand using AI.” The site allows

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See Dating apps need women. Advertisers need diversity. AI companies offer a solution: Fake people by Drew Harwell of Washington Post. Excerpts:
"Artificial intelligence start-ups are selling images of computer-generated faces that look like the real thing, offering companies a chance to create imaginary models and “increase diversity” in their ads without needing human beings.

One firm is offering to sell diverse photos for marketing brochures and has already signed up clients, including a dating app that intends to use the images in a chatbot."

"Icons8, an Argentina-based design firm that sells digital illustrations and stock photos, launched its online business Generated.photos last month, offering “worry-free, diverse models on-demand using AI.”
The site allows anyone to filter fake photos based on age (from “Infant” to “Elderly”), ethnicity (including “White,” “Latino,” “Asian” and “Black”) and emotion (“Joy,” “Neutral,” “Surprise”), as well as gender, eye color and hair length. The system, however, shows a number of odd gaps and biases: For instance, the only available skin color for infants is white.

The company says its faces could be useful for clients needing to jazz up promotional materials, fill out prototypes or illustrate concepts too touchy for a human model, such as “embarrassing situations” and “criminal proceedings.” Its online guide also promises clients they can “increase diversity” and “reduce bias” by including “many different ethnic backgrounds in your projects.”

Companies infamously have embarrassed themselves through haphazard diversity-boosting attempts, Photoshopping a black man into an all-white crowd, as the University of Wisconsin-Madison did on an undergraduate booklet, or superimposing women into group photos of men.
But while the AI start-ups boast a simple fix — offering companies the illusion of diversity, without working with a diverse set of people — their systems have a crucial flaw: They mimic only the likenesses they’ve already seen. Valerie Emanuel, a Los Angeles-based co-founder of the talent agency Role Models Management, said she worried that these kinds of fake photos could turn the medium into a monoculture, in which most faces look the same.
“We want to create more diversity and show unique faces in advertising going forward,” Emanuel said. “This is homogenizing one look.”

Icons8 created its faces first by taking tens of thousands of photos of about 70 models in studios around the world, said Ivan Braun, the company’s founder. Braun’s colleagues — who work remotely across the United States, Italy, Israel, Russia and Ukraine — then spent several months preparing a database, cleaning the images, labeling data and organizing the photos to the computer’s precise specifications.

With those images at the ready, engineers then used an AI system known as StyleGAN to output a flood of new photos, generating 1 million images in a single day. His team then selected the 100,000 most convincing images, which were made available for public use. More will be generated in the coming months.
The company, Braun said, signed three clients in its first week: an American university, a dating app and a human-resources planning firm. Braun declined to name the clients.

Clients can download up to 10,000 photos a month starting at $100. The models will not be paid residuals for any of the new AI-generated images built from their photo shoots, Braun said.
Another firm, the San Francisco-based start-up Rosebud AI, offers clients a chance at 25,000 photos of “AI-customized models of different ethnicities.” Company founder Lisha Li — who named it after an infinite-money cheat code she loved as a kid for the people-simulator game “The Sims” — said she first marketed the photos as a way for small businesses on online-shopping sites to invent stylish models without the need for pricey photography.
Her company’s source images came from online databases of free and uncopyrighted photos, and the system allows clients to easily superimpose different faces on a shifting set of bodies. She promotes the system as a powerful tool to augment photographers’ abilities, letting them easily tailor the models for a fashion shoot to the nationality or ethnicity of the viewer. “Face is a pain point that the technology can solve,” she said."

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