What is Loab, this disturbing face created by an AI?

Are there ghosts in our computers? Of course not, but a recent viral Twitter thread might make it seem like something sinister is lurking behind our screens just waiting to be unleashed. On September 6, the Internet discovered “
Loab “, a “woman” apparently generated by an artificial intelligence (AI). ” prime latent space cryptic “”, “frightening”, “demon”, “homosexual icon”, the qualifiers were quick to try to define this phenomenon. All this deserves clarification.

AI in art

To understand Loab, you have to know what’s going on right now with the artistic use of AI. Over the past few months, AI-generated art has grown in prominence thanks to the proliferation of tools such as Dall-E Mini, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion. These programs allow users to enter a short phrase, a “prompt,” which the AI ​​interprets to create an image. The transition from words to images takes a few minutes at most. The resulting creations range from downright disturbing to a form of whimsical beauty.

This phenomenon was quick to raise a debate among artists and creators, some evoking ” an ethical and copyright black hole “. Indeed, the AI ​​generates new images from a considerable number of real works of art, created by human beings.

But the AI ​​doesn’t just take old images and rework them to make new ones. There are also a lot of calculations and mathematics involved. For example, if an AI is asked to draw a hat, it does not mix all the hats in its database to come up with the most representative amalgam. Instead, it somehow guesses what one is looking for based on all the images it has been trained on and creates the never-before-seen image of a hat. Therefore, the images generated by an AI should not be considered as simple collages. That brings us to Loab.

What is Loab?

Loab is the portrait of an elderly woman made of an amalgam of human features generated by an artistic tool of artificial intelligence. Loab does not exist. It was “created” by @supercomposite using an image. To start, he used a query that asked the AI ​​to create something the opposite of the request. What emerged was an incomprehensible image of a skyline with the letters “DIGITA PNTICS” written on it. The author then used this sentence as a negative prompt and the AI ​​produced images of an elderly woman with long hair and rosy cheeks. Supercomposite called it “Loab” because one of the images generated text that appears to say “LOAB”.

The next step was to boost the algorithms by mixing other AI-generated images with images from Loab. Supercomposite asked: “ Draw me something new with this woman as a base “. This resulted in all sorts of gruesome and gory images, with decapitated humans and horribly-faced children.

In its account, Supercomposite explains that Loab ” haunts every picture she touches “. Which makes perfect sense given the way this AI works. She took a query, Loab’s original images, and mixed them with other images to generate new renders. As Supercomposite puts it, AI can ” cling to Loab’s idea “.

Supercomposite did not wish to give the name of the AI ​​generator it used in order not to ” do not advertise » for the tool and «
start a kind of viral trend of people doing gory stuff with the tools i used
“. Grotesque, disturbing, creepy, Loab even has its own Wikipedia page.

Beyond Loab

However, Loab cannot be “summoned” with another AI image generator like Midjourney. If you use the “Loab” prompt, you get all sorts of different images, but none of them represent this woman.

Supercomposite explained to our colleagues at CNET.com that if one typed the same negative image prompt into the tool he used, one could generate Loab again. However ”
the software has changed so the exact same technique is not possible, but you can work around it.

The conclusion is that it is not possible to “call” Loab like a digital demon that would come to haunt our computers. Whether one finds this disappointing or reassuring, the reality is that Loab does not exist.

CNET.com article adapted by CNETFrance

Image: @supercomposite/Twitter

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