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NVIDIA-Powered Neural Network Produces Freakishly Natural Fake Human Photos (hothardware.com) 140

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA released a paper recently detailing a new machine learning methodology for generating unique and realistic looking faces using a generative adversarial network (GAN). The result is the ability to artificially render photorealistic human faces of "unprecedented quality." NVIDIA achieves this by using an algorithm that pairs two neural networks -- a generator and a discriminator -- that compete against each other. The generator starts from a low resolution image and builds upon it, while the discriminator assesses the results, sort of like a constant critic, pointing out where things have gone wrong. The GAN is not a new technology, but where NVIDIA differentiates is through the progressive training method it developed. NVIDIA took a database of photographs of famous people and used that to train its system. By working together, the neural networks were able to produce fake images that are nearly indistinguishable from real human photographs, and a little creepy too.
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NVIDIA-Powered Neural Network Produces Freakishly Natural Fake Human Photos

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  • Not Bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @06:10AM (#55468181)

    A few of those example results are a little uncanny valley-ish, but the best are nearly good enough to serve as my dating profile picture. Google Image Search THIS!

    • Re:Not Bad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @06:30AM (#55468211)

      The real trick is when they are animated.
      I remember a back in 2000 where they were showing screen shots of the upcoming final fantasy movie. The screen shots looks like real people without the uncanny valley. However when they started moving and talking then it came to light.

      Granted graphics and animation have improved greatly in the past 18 years but I hold my doubts until I can see the rendered images move and interact.

      • by NoZart ( 961808 )

        yeah, not quite there yet - see tarkin and leia in that last star wars

        • I hope there comes a day when there are no more overpaid actors. Let THOSE jobs go to computers! We aren't there yet but this is a step in the right direction.

          • by gtall ( 79522 )

            And few would go to see the movies. One thing that keeps people coming back is they can see a star they can relate to. Stars generate press for themselves, they come with a backstory, and some with stories we'd rather not hear. However, this is what the proles see as interesting.

            • by mark-t ( 151149 )
              I disagree.... while yes, you are right that people want to see the human actors that they know and recognize, I can definitely see no small appeal to virtual computer actors, and a demographic of people that they would appeal to that is more than large enough to service.
            • While I go to the movies for a sense of escapism, there still needs to be a sense that what I am watching is fiction if it is fiction. I am OK with other actors playing the part of actors who are unavailable, dead, or have aged to a point where they will not fit in the movie. Sure they may look different and sound different, however If I am willing to suspend my belief for Space Wizards, Technology based loosely on shaky scientific hypotheses, I can suspend it to say this guy is the same guy that was pla

            • by Anonymous Coward

              "And few would go to see the movies."

              For the most part I absolutely disagree. Some of the biggest movie/series ever ($$$$) were not about the actors: Avatar, Transformers, Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman, Lord of the Rings, etc. not to mention all of the animated works of Pixar and Disney. In my opinion the character matters, not the actor. Only established actors are a potential box office draw. If and when digital works replace established actors in a convincing and cost effective fashion, so long to real

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              People went to see toy story and other animations. They went to see Avatar. They will see movies with synthetic actors too - when those get good enough. No more overpaid actors or problems with stunts. No body doubles, no issues with nakedness or "I won't play that sort of character". Instead of actors they pay a team of animators, but those are more replaceable and can't demand crazy pay.

              After a while, some of the synthetic actors will become famous, and attract moviegoers just like a real star (or like m

              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Already happened in Japan - Hatsune Miku virtual singer

                https://www.wmagazine.com/story/hatsune-miku-crypton-future

            • And few would go to see the movies. One thing that keeps people coming back is they can see a star they can relate to. Stars generate press for themselves, they come with a backstory, and some with stories we'd rather not hear. However, this is what the proles see as interesting.

              Easy google search if you require proof, but the gaming industry does more business and makes more money than the movie or music industry. Stars generate press for themselves, they come with a backstory....that's *also* true in the gaming industry. Mario, Samus, Master Chief, Cloud, Zelda and Link, etc.

              If you can computer generate a superstar in a franchise that is virtually indistinguishable from a real person, in a franchise or industry that makes more money / has more fans / gets more attention than a

              • BRING ON THE PROCEDURALLY GENERATED ALIEN TENTACLE PORN!!!!!!

                (She said, breathlessly into her cell phone...Siri responded "I'm sorry, all I have is disturbing uncanny valley porn. You will need to upgrade to the iPhone xXx for that, now with genital recognition."

            • Virtual actors might not be all that attractive to the consumers, at least, not as long as they can tell the difference. BUT; I'm sure they'll be hugely appealing to the folks who produce the media content. They'll be a hell of a lot cheaper, easier to work with, scandal free and readily disposable if the director or the fickle public decide a given character is yesterdays news. With that kind of motivation, I'm sure enough money will be thrown at the problem until the studios get characters the audience ca
          • I hope there comes a day when there are no more overpaid actors. Let THOSE jobs go to computers! We aren't there yet but this is a step in the right direction.

            Even when computers can generate photo-realistic people that can move like real people you are still going to have actors.

            Why?

            Because the job of actors is not to simply be "photo-realistic people that can move like real people" (we call those people "models"), their job is to act. They bring life and nuance to the characters they portray. Consider Andy Serkis's Gollum. He is as realistic as he needs to be, but he would not exist as a convincing character without Serkis's motion capture acting.

            Computers do n

            • by N_Piper ( 940061 )
              I gently disagree, while there are no doubt bad Actors out there in the end the Director is the one to blame for a bad performance by a good actor.
              A good film is made by throwing away >90% of the recorded footage, that's like practically the heart and soul of procedural generation.
              To come back to a point you made that I think undercuts your argument, Andy Serkis's Gollum was an entirely digital character, aside from voice.
              Andy Serkis and various animators input digital data to computers to make Gollum
          • Re:Not Bad (Score:4, Insightful)

            by cellocgw ( 617879 ) <cellocgw@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @12:57PM (#55470139) Journal

            Don't be deliberately stupid. The bulk of the profit from movies goes to studio owners and producers. You want them to get even more?
            It's like Jim Bouton said of player salaries, "[the players] don't deserve the money, but the owners don't deserve it more."

          • I seem to remember a Michael Crichton movie [imdb.com] that explored that idea, didn't work out so well for the actors.
        • Different problem maybe. Tarkin and Leia are generated from pictures of real people. The lighting and animation of them seems to make them look a little plastic and fake. Tarkin worked best, I think because the actor was playing such a stiff role that he hardly had to move his mouth.

          This is more about generating fake people... animating them is still going to be a problem.

          • by Anonymous Coward
            I find it fascinating how all of us have seen the same movie, but came to a different conclusion regarding how well those two were animated. Some people think Tarkin looked better than Leia, some think Leia looked better than Tarkin, and some think that both sucked. I haven't yet met someone who claimed that both were good though.
            • I like Star Wars, but I am not a nitpicking fan. So when I saw Tarkin and Leia I didn't feel that anything was odd on the first impression. After it was pointed out, then I could see the imperfections. I expect a lot of the fans before they saw the movie realized these characters would be shown in CGI. Me I didn't do all my research about how the movie was made before I watched it, so I wasn't displeased from it.

        • Rachel looked pretty good in BR2049, though... much better than the efforts in Star Wars. The way the scene was lit may have helped, though.
      • We are entering the age when even video evidence can be faked. I think that has many implications, and I don't even like thinking about them.
      • Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I want an algo that I can feed my own pictures to and it will produce a picture that resembles me enough to be recognizable by a human who knows me in person, but won't match my actual face using facial recognition (as in it would subtly change the biometrics of my face like distance between eyes, between mouth and nose, etc). That would make for a good dating profile pic - it looks like me in person so its nobody is surprised if we meet in person, but the dating site can't easily link all my data based on

      • by jblues ( 1703158 )
        Will be a cat and mouse race. Face recognition software, for example in the new iOS devices, uses the same technique - GANS - as Nvidia did here to train their network.
    • Girlfriend in GANada?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Fake celebrities will add a whole new dimension to fake news.

    • I think the entire article is misleading. All of those faces and images are not generated from scratch, but are in fact based on graphical templates that I guess were fed to this neural network. And all that neural network seems to do is to apply some morphs to the existing images by interpolating with other images.
      I was sceptical at first, but then the Petronas Towers showed up during the morphs of the "Towers" category. Also there is so much background detail in the images, no way all of that information

      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        Ah that explains why several of the photos look very similar to existing actors & actresses

    • The uncanny valley effect is probably due mostly to the massive amount of digital editing in photos today.
      That would go both towards tainting the data set making more blemish free smooth faces and the normalisation of those computer doctored photos in our minds.
      If we were less used to looking at, essentially, computer generated faces and the neural net was trying to reproduce something that wasn't, essentially, a computer generated face then the difference would be more apparent
    • A couple of them (look at the center last row female) look like Real Dolls to me.
  • Do they look creepy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @06:11AM (#55468183)
    Do they look creepy? They look like many or the retouched "real" photos you see in the media all the time to me!
    • From the static picture they seem as creepy as people with overdone makeup. I was hoping to see a bunch of pictures of the normal people. Not a bunch of models. It is like early 3D static realistic however impossibly clean and perfect.

      • I was hoping to see a bunch of pictures of the normal people. Not a bunch of models.

        You might want to retract that criticism. The article says they trained the network with celebrity photos, most of which benefit from professional makeup, lighting, and retouching.

        If they trained it with regular family photos instead, I assume the output would be more in line with your expectations.

        • Perhaps, but with the professionals with a lot of the imperfections glossed away it may mean that regular photos may not work as well, because it would be too complex because of all our imperfection, skin blotches, crooked teeth, and less then symmetric faces. Or the algorithm will have a hard time figuring out what is normal, Thus make a lot of people with exaggerated imperfections, so what would had been a normal looking person, ends up being quite ugly.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Some of them are very creepy. The most common case is a pair of eyes that are too different. Different sizes, different slanting. Each eye may be perfect alone, but they do not form a pair - yet they are in the same face.

      Then there are all the weird eyeglasses, when morphing from one kind to another.

      See the movie about the training of the neural nets. Some of the intermediate images are quite yucky - hair looking like a heap of veins or something. More training and it got better.

      Now, will they be able to tr

    • I thought their eyes looked kind of of at first, but then I google imaged "faces". The neural network faces look less "off" than the real thing.
  • Curriculum learning (Score:4, Informative)

    by LetterRip ( 30937 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @06:23AM (#55468199)

    This sounds like the standard idea of curriculum learning - you teach NNs via progressively more difficult tasks.

  • There can be no exceptions!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They should add the ability to recreate biometric parameters: Generate a fake picture that image recognition will attribute to a real person with the given biometrics. I'd buy that.

  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @06:29AM (#55468209)

    "two neural networks -- a generator and a discriminator"

    IOW a democrat and a republican. :-)

  • Hollywood-Powered Neural Networks Produce Freakishly Fake Natural Human Photos

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @06:43AM (#55468239)

    The rendered images look strikingly like actual human photographs, I'll bet they could fool nearly everyone -- you'd have to have a reason to think they were fake.

    I'm wondering if their choice of celebrities as the training database somehow skews their results positive versus "ordinary" people. Celebrities almost seem too uniform in terms of facial features and general appearance. It makes me wonder if they tried with ordinary people if the algorithm woudln't produce freaks because it sees odd deviations among normal people.

    • by BradleyUffner ( 103496 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @07:20AM (#55468321) Homepage

      The rendered images look strikingly like actual human photographs, I'll bet they could fool nearly everyone -- you'd have to have a reason to think they were fake.

      I'm wondering if their choice of celebrities as the training database somehow skews their results positive versus "ordinary" people. Celebrities almost seem too uniform in terms of facial features and general appearance. It makes me wonder if they tried with ordinary people if the algorithm woudln't produce freaks because it sees odd deviations among normal people.

      If you look at the full paper, this is capable of so much more than faces. There are dozens of pages of every-day objects they generated, from bedrooms, to wine bottles, to boats, and bicycles. A few of them of some pretty obvious warping and distortions, but the ones that don't look like real objects. It's mind blowing.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I expect we will start seeing this used for TV shows pretty soon. Sets are expensive, and it's really obvious when shows like Suits re-use the same corner office slightly redressed for 20 different companies. Soon they will just film against bluescreen and click a button in Premier to auto-generate a single-use office set.

        • Why stop with office suite sets?

          We can cashier pretty much all actors and actresses. Already synthesized voice singer robot is grammy award winner quality. Saw the post about the singing robots of Japan? We can just use CGI actors.

          Finally people who were lucky enough to have some good looking features will stop hogging the limelight, yup limelight. The real creative people, the script writers, directors and cinematographers will get their due share. While these CGI characters who work 24/7 for a pittance

      • Mindblowingly overfitted, probably.

    • Yeah, let's try this with "People of Walmart".

    • They do (more or less) but I wonder what would you do with them? I.e. what is the use for a single frame of a non-existing person, or the ability to generate single frames of many non-existing people?

  • These faces are a lot less scary than previous neural-network human faces attempts. https://www.fastcodesign.com/3... [fastcodesign.com]
  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @07:42AM (#55468375)

    Since photographic evidence is commonly used to convict people of a crime, I can't but help wonder if our legal system will be able to keep up with technology in order to avoid the manipulation that may ultimately condemn an innocent person.

    It's quite concerning when the term "indistinguishable" is used to describe technology, as 12 randomly selected citizens can be indistinguishable from a group of morons who are unable to tell the difference between real and fake.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Rarely is photographic evidence alone used for a conviction. You'd be amazed how unreliable cameras, etc. actually are.

      However, they are often used as PART OF a conviction. Especially if they have come from multiple independent sources (nearby shops as well as the one burgled, street cams, some random person's dashcam, etc.).

      No court would convict on the basis of one photo alone - even if it was dated and had GPS EXIF info. Precisely because it's too easy to forge. That's why some cameras have cryptogra

      • by nealric ( 3647765 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:55AM (#55468917)

        Speaking as a lawyer, I'm afraid you have far too much confidence in the judicial system. People have been convicted based on a lot less than a seemingly perfect photograph and few criminal defendants have the financial wherewithal to hire an expert to contest the veracity of a spoofed photo.

        • Speaking as a lawyer, I'm afraid you have far too much confidence in the judicial system. People have been convicted based on a lot less than a seemingly perfect photograph and few criminal defendants have the financial wherewithal to hire an expert to contest the veracity of a spoofed photo.

          Exactly. The one with the most money wins is often more truth than hyperbole.

    • I've seen several forums talking about the need for cloud-connected cameras such that every time you take a photo, the image, the user ID, GPS coordinates, and timestamp are added to some blockchain for certification. Any later re-touching/editing is then checked in as a transaction so that the entire "chain of evidence" is preserved in a public record. To me, it seems that something like that is the only way we're going to be able to trust any recording in the future -- or the present, really, since this t
  • Nah. Looks just as fake as the photoshopped crap in various magazines.

    Maybe it looks "realistic" to people whose primary source for people's faces is said magazines. Get out of your mom's basement!

  • When seeing pictures like these in a random profile somewhere, the first idea coming to my mind is that they are fake. Even by ignoring some weird bits (some of them are surprisingly similar to various celebrities), the main issue is the lack of realism. A different story is being able to tell whether the fake picture was created by a quite-bad-at-faking person or a computer.
  • by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @08:45AM (#55468565) Homepage Journal

    Now apply this to human voices; unlimited permutations in games, instead of fixed recorded lines.

    but what we'll get is ads that call your name.

  • I'd clean up their act! They can be EASILY replaced
  • "A sad day in Hollywood... We say goodbye to one of the greats..." -OR- "Identify these celebrities... Only 7% Know the Answer..."
  • This could take catfishing to a whole new level.

    Beware.

    LK

  • by Tx ( 96709 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2017 @09:12AM (#55468669) Journal

    You can't get back detail that is missing from a low resolution image, so you can't go e.g. from an SD resolution movie to a 4K one, or at least the result won't look like a movie shot in 4K. Conventional upscaling is basically interpolate-and-sharpen, and it gives only a minor improvement. But while you can't get back the original missing detail, what you could in theory do is generate plausible synthetic detail.

    Since this technique seems to involve building up the image through a series of increasing resolutions, I'm wondering if instead of generating a completely synthetic image, you could take a low resolution frame as the starting point, and use similar methods to add plausible synthetic detail. I would have thought that that would actually be a lot easier to generate a good result than if you're trarting from scratch to create a completely synthetic image.

    Could it be that our Kazaa-era porn favourites will one day be viewable in 4K quality after all?

    • This is what Waifu2x does, for the limited case of anime-based images. It is a neural network based upscaler capable of doing some very good enlargements on comic-like and cartoon-like images.

      http://waifu2x.udp.jp/ [waifu2x.udp.jp]

    • Here's a demonstration of a neural net doing temporal interpolation (increase framerate of source video by adding realistic intermediate frames)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    • You've obviously never seen CSI. Didn't you know they can take a 12DPI resolution image from a shitty security camera and turn it into 1080P? It actually uses its own assembly language, which they managed to trim down to a single instruction: ENHCE -- Enhance. Instead of typing in that program and using loops, you literally just use voice-to-text, stare at a screen and say "Enhance! Enhance! Enhance!"
  • "and even less of what you hear" I think that old saying has gone way down in value.. So can you now get caught doing anything and say it was "fixed"? Has truth in pictures gone way of the Dodo and dinosaurs?
    • Pretty much. Before, faking images and video was time consuming, but this is the next step in being able to produce convincing fake imagery on a mass scale outside of the realm of Hollywood. I foresee this tech being useful for disinformation experts, being able to construct complete profiles for sock puppet accounts to include family vacation photos, graduations, etc.

      We won't be able to believe our lying eyes when it comes to anything on a display. Thankfully, we can always rely on those in a position of

  • Many of them seem to have some weirdness at the top of the head. Pointedness, baldness that kind of thing, I wonder what that says about the algorithm.
    • There's just a huge amount of variation in photos of the top of the head because of hats, hairstyles, etc. so it probably takes much more training to get that part right. The face is much more consistent among beautiful actors.

      • It occurred to me after I posted that these images may be frames from a video and that perhaps the frame just shows a point where it transitions from one hairstyle to another.
  • If after reading my title you didn't guess: naked people. All those photorealistic painting artists will be out of a job.

  • I don't get it. Based on the summary, it sounds like they are taking a picture and then tracing it, and another program is constantly saying "you traced wrong, go back and do it right!". So... they can take a picture, and from it render the same picture? Haven't computers been able to do that since... oh.... forever? Without AI involved at all.
  • This is actually just blending real photos from a database.
    It's not generating anything from scratch, it's progressively layering bits of various photos together and blending. They start low res and then add in details at higher res. Some of the results show this as the general shape looks fucked up or kind of fuzzy at a high contrast edge (jawline or hair line), but the lips and especially the eyes look perfect.

    NVIDIA took a database of photographs of famous people and used that to train its system. By working together, the neural networks were able to produce fake images that are nearly indistinguishable from real human photographs.

    In the samples you can clearly recognize some celebrities such as Adam Sandler's and Zoey Desc

  • This + flexible screen tech means this cloaking hood shouldn't be that far away.

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