How an A.I. ‘Cat-and-Mouse Game’ Generates Believable Fake Photos

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At a lab in Finland, a small team of Nvidia researchers recently built a system that can analyze thousands of (real) celebrity snapshots, recognize common patterns, and create new images that look much the same — but are still a little different. The system can also generate realistic images of horses, buses, bicycles, plants and many other common objects.

The project is part of a vast and varied effort to build technology that can automatically generate convincing images — or alter existing images in equally convincing ways. The hope is that this technology can significantly accelerate and improve the creation of computer interfaces, games, movies and other media, eventually allowing software to create realistic imagery in moments rather than the hours — if not days — it can now take human developers.

In recent years, thanks to a breed of algorithm that can learn tasks by analyzing vast amounts of data, companies like Google and Facebook have built systems that can recognize faces and common objects with an accuracy that rivals the human eye. Now, these and other companies, alongside many of the world’s top academic A.I. labs, are using similar methods to both recognize and create.

Nvidia’s images can’t match the resolution of images produced by a top-of-the-line camera, but when viewed on even the largest smartphones, they are sharp, detailed, and, in many cases, remarkably convincing.

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Why Isn’t Your Toddler Paying the Mortgage?

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Mila and Emma are two breakthrough stars of a new class of social media celebrities: young children who appear in viral videos. In many of the most popular clips, these whippersnappers engage in adultlike conversations, amusingly given their babyish voices. The videos can be incredibly popular. And marketers have noticed.

The Tinderization of the NBA

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Since the late 1980s, the winning percentage of road teams has been rising in the NBA. After speaking to dozens of players, coaches, and team officials, Tom Haberstroh found a fairly accepted answer: “NBA players are sleeping more and drinking less”. Players are taking their careers more seriously and partying less on the road while transportation coordination has improved. Ubiquitous cameras and big sponsorships keep bad behavior in check. An additional factor is that with apps like Tinder and Instagram, companionship can be delivered to a player’s hotel room like Seamless or Postmates without the need to drink at the club for a few hours beforehand.

The universe reached down and blessed us all with a new Meryl Streep meme

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An old picture from the 2015 SAG awards shows the inimitable actor shouting through closed hands. The internet wisely chose to use this pic as a way to shout out the things they most want to shout.

Related article.

Death in the celebrity age

Despite being from 2005, this article is evermore relevant today, as it starts to feel like we’re mourning all of our favourite stars:

Chances are in 15-20 years, someone famous whose work you enjoyed or whom you admired or who had a huge influence on who you are as a person will die each day…and probably even more than one a day. And that’s just you…many other famous people will have died that day who mean something to other people. Will we all just be in a constant state of mourning? Will the NY Times national obituary section swell to 30 pages a day? As members of the human species, we’re used to dealing with the death of people we “know” in amounts in the low hundreds over the course of a lifetime. With higher life expectancies and the increased number of people known to each of us (particularly in the hypernetworked part of the world), how are we going to handle it when several thousand people we know die over the course of our lifetime?

The Latest Celebrity Diet? Cyberbullying

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Lately, celebrity feuds have taken on the contours of cyberbullying, with famous rivals integrating the tactics of online harassers into their P.R. offensives. What looks like a public display of immaturity can actually be part of a sophisticated image management strategy. Retweet counts and Instagram followers are the new Billboard 100, and celebrities can gin up their numbers by instigating feuds with one another in increasingly nasty or technologically intriguing ways. But the game can have a dark side, especially for the losers.

The modern celebrity arsenal incorporates these other digital bullying tools:

SECRET RECORDINGS…SEXUAL HUMILIATION …REVENGE PORN 

…MOB DEPLOYMENT For celebrities with the most rabid fandoms, even an oblique nod from the star can set off a fan stampede. After Ms. Kardashian West posted the Snapchat video of Ms. Swift’s phone call, Kanye fans and allies — many aligned with her spurned ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris — gathered under the #KimExposedTaylorParty hashtag to shovel out cruelly exultant GIFs and memes.

 

We Saw What You Did There, iJustine

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Justine Ezarik, known to millions of her fans as iJustine, was one of YouTube’s earliest stars. Before Jenna Marbles, Epic Meal Time and PewDiePie began posting videos, Ms. Ezarik was busy building a brand as the attractive girl-next-door who could also beat all the boys in “Call of Duty.”

…With the field of YouTube celebrities growing more crowded, it’s worth asking: What can we learn from a person who has spent the past decade streaming her life, acting as her own boss and weathering the changing landscape of social media?