There are all kinds of photographic filters and editing tools out there these days, some of them even pretty advanced and impressive. But how far is too far when it comes to visual manipulation? For the past couple of years, we’ve been pretty sure deepfakes were the answer to this philosophical question... but how terribly wrong we were. Readers, meet the “unselfie,” the definitive proof of humanity’s technological hubris and reckless disregard for aesthetic safety.
The sins of our selfies past — If you’ve made it this far, we assume it’s because you returned after instinctually washing your eyes out with chlorine. So, who is responsible for this abject lesson in the limits to our collective imagination — and why? It's AI researchers at Berkeley, Adobe Research, and KU Leuven in Flanders, who recently wrote in their research paper that “constraints such as human arm length often make the body pose look unnatural. To address this issue, we introduce ‘unselfie,’ a novel photographic transformation that automatically translates a selfie into a neutral-pose portrait.”
Okay, so first off: “novel photographic transformation” is certainly one way to describe this technological sin, since our gut reaction was to claw out our eyes while simultaneously laughing at the absurdity of these “renderings.” Secondly, “neutral-pose portrait” is something people could conceivably use for a photo of someone standing, like, six feet away from the camera with their arms at their sides. These are neither neutral, nor portraits.
In the paper, the researchers say they trained the AI on 23,169 photos of people "in frontal and neutral poses" from public databases along with over 4,000 "selfie photos from the Internet," found using search terms like "selfie girl" and "selfie boy." That's all well and good, except for, you know, the results of said “technique.” Gird yourselves, because here comes some more pain: it’s only Monday, and we now have definitive proof that God has forsaken us all.