5 fun AIs that let you play with images in unexpected ways


The thought of AI can be scary, and it would be rational for the inevitability of the singularity to make you anxious.

But sometimes it’s best to ignore the dark cloud that is the unknown future to play with some cool AI-powered software that messes with images/sketches to create funny and cool-looking things. It’s time to enter uncanny valley.

Pix2Pix human generator

pix 2 pix

Pix2Pix is the brainchild of Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO, and it uses “hundreds of drawings and photographs” of presenter Lara Rense to create a neural system that lets you create a realistic photo of her from a crude sketch.

Of course, this only works well if you’re a) a good artist and b) care enough to try. Otherwise, it’s just a fun tool to draw terrible people and watch them become fodder for the next big horror movie.

Pix2Pix works best on Google Chrome, according to its creators.

DeepDream generator

Hallucinogenic crocodile
Hallucinogenic crocodile

DeepDream generates dreams in the same way dentists generate happiness, but don’t let that deter you. The algorithm, made by Google, was initially created to let scientists and engineers understand what a neural network was doing when it looked at a given image.

Now it’s mostly used for “psychedelic and abstract art,” or, as I like to call it, a sometimes beautiful, always terrifying form of hell.

Its counterpart DeepStyle transforms images into paintings, but that’s way less fun than fish for arms and meerkats for eyes.


captionbot Microsoft’s CaptionBot is hardly the most exciting on this list, but it highlights just how far machine-learning has come in identifying images. The algorithm uses Computer Vision and Natural language to describe the contents of an image — and it even has the ability to recognise famous faces.

The bot’s ‘siblings’ include the likes of How Old Do I Look, Are You Twins, My Moustache, What Dog, and Celebs Like Me.



Edges2Cats has the same premise as Pix2Pix, except instead of a human you’re drawing a cat. The software isn’t flawless (it often takes a few tries to process without errors), but the results are so entertaining you may just overlook it.

Edges2Cats became somewhat of a meme back in February, when Twitter users used #edges2cats to spread their lovable creations.

Perhaps most impressive was @EimhinMcNamara’s animation, exemplifying what we can do when humans and technology work together.



Speaking of humans and tech working together: Sketch-RNN is a program that is designed to help you draw. Trained on millions of sketches from Google’s Quick, Draw! game (another bit of fun to be had with AI), the demo gives you a model to draw and guesses how it should be finished.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes you can get so caught up in wanting to draw that you may as well be using Microsoft Paint. Or that may just be me.

The program works best on desktop, and will use 5MB of data for every model loaded.



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