Re-“Markle”-able Artificial Intelligence Can Generate Realistic Human Faces

The fact that artificial intelligence (AI) can product such realistic human likeness is remarkable. Yes, that picture is not a real person. It was created by a computer which was trained to do so.

The web site uses AI to generate human faces randomly. Open this link and see what I mean. Not just once, but you will see a new generated face every time you refresh the page. Over and over again. Yes, none of these pictures are of real people. They are generated by a computer.

And the quality is amazing. Most of the generated images are so lifelike that you would not know each one was randomly created by a computer. They look like standard portrait images.

They may look like portrait or identification pictures, but they are artificial images put together by software that has been trained to recognise the contours and features of the human face.

The site was developed by a software engineer from NVIDIA attempting to raise awareness about Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. The technology to generate the faces is called Style-based Generating and Tuning Realistic Artificial Faces or StyleGANS.

The web site demonstrates technology that puts together images in a seamless way and shows that high quality, realistic human faces can be generated by a computer. This kind of technology involves giving a piece of software millions and millions of different images and some rules about the basic geometry and layout of a human face. From those samples, the software can "learn" what a human face should look like. The basic features would be easy because all faces have 2 eyes a nose and a mouth. But it is the intricacies that are astounding. Here are just a few things that stood out to me as interesting:

  • The signs of aging - skin texture and wrinkles together with steely eyes can often give an indication how old a person is. Most of these generated face put these combinations together perfectly
  • Teeth - teeth are another indicator of age and most of these images show the correct kind of teeth for the person's age
  • Male facial hair - not all men have beards. When a man does have a beard, it does not cover his whole face. A moustache can stop at the edges of a man's mouth but some of them go further (let's not even talk about a gentleman's handlebar moustache)
  • Emotions - a person does not just smile with their mouth. When you smile, your eye shape changes, your cheek shape changes and you usually show your teeth
  • Eyes are the window to your soul - there are some exceptions in the samples, but most images show eyes that are alive and convey emotion. And when you look at something, both eyes look in that direction but you can see that both eyes are not in exactly the same position when a photo is taken close enough

There are some filters available in social media software that does this kind of thing already. I am sure most of you have tried the good old face swap.

This software is good for fun, but I think we can all agree that the results of less than re-"Markle"-able. See what I did there?

But StyleGANS takes this kind of fun to an entirely new level. The software understands how features should blend together in order to make a realistic facial expression. Facebook will soon be able to transform your bestie's facial onto your face in the very near future.

Deep learning and artificial intelligence are making breakthroughs every day and this is just one example. I am looking forward to the time when deep learning can help us understand the things that still remain a mystery to the human race while still being able to beat the best chess champions in the world.