Discover DALL‑E, the Artificial Intelligence Artist That Lets You Create Surreal Artwork

DALL‑E, an arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence sys­tem that gen­er­ates viable-look­ing art in a vari­ety of styles in response to user sup­plied text prompts, has been gar­ner­ing a lot of inter­est since it debuted this spring.

It has yet to be released to the gen­er­al pub­lic, but while we’re wait­ing, you could have a go at DALL‑E Mini, an open source AI mod­el that gen­er­ates a grid of images inspired by any phrase you care to type into its search box.

Co-cre­ator Boris Day­ma explains how DALL‑E Mini learns by view­ing mil­lions of cap­tioned online images:

Some of the con­cepts are learnt (sic) from mem­o­ry as it may have seen sim­i­lar images. How­ev­er, it can also learn how to cre­ate unique images that don’t exist such as “the Eif­fel tow­er is land­ing on the moon” by com­bin­ing mul­ti­ple con­cepts togeth­er.

Sev­er­al mod­els are com­bined togeth­er to achieve these results:

• an image encoder that turns raw images into a sequence of num­bers with its asso­ci­at­ed decoder

• a mod­el that turns a text prompt into an encod­ed image

• a mod­el that judges the qual­i­ty of the images gen­er­at­ed for bet­ter fil­ter­ing 

My first attempt to gen­er­ate some art using DALL‑E mini failed to yield the hoped for weird­ness.  I blame the bland­ness of my search term — “toma­to soup.”

Per­haps I’d have bet­ter luck “Andy Warhol eat­ing a bowl of toma­to soup as a child in Pitts­burgh.”

Ah, there we go!

I was curi­ous to know how DALL‑E Mini would riff on its name­sake artist’s han­dle (an hon­or Dali shares with the tit­u­lar AI hero of Pixar’s 2018 ani­mat­ed fea­ture, WALL‑E.)

Hmm… seems like we’re back­slid­ing a bit.

Let me try “Andy Warhol eat­ing a bowl of toma­to soup as a child in Pitts­burgh with Sal­vador Dali.”

Ye gods! That’s the stuff of night­mares, but it also strikes me as pret­ty legit mod­ern art. Love the spar­ing use of red. Well done, DALL‑E mini.

At this point, van­i­ty got the bet­ter of me and I did the AI art-gen­er­at­ing equiv­a­lent of googling my own name, adding “in a tutu” because who among us hasn’t dreamed of being a bal­le­ri­na at some point?

Let that be a les­son to you, Pan­do­ra…

Hope­ful­ly we’re all plan­ning to use this play­ful open AI tool for good, not evil.

Hyperallergic’s Sarah Rose Sharp raised some valid con­cerns in rela­tion to the orig­i­nal, more sophis­ti­cat­ed DALL‑E:

It’s all fun and games when you’re gen­er­at­ing “robot play­ing chess” in the style of Matisse, but drop­ping machine-gen­er­at­ed imagery on a pub­lic that seems less capa­ble than ever of dis­tin­guish­ing fact from fic­tion feels like a dan­ger­ous trend.

Addi­tion­al­ly, DALL‑E’s neur­al net­work can yield sex­ist and racist images, a recur­ring issue with AI tech­nol­o­gy. For instance, a reporter at Vice found that prompts includ­ing search terms like “CEO” exclu­sive­ly gen­er­at­ed images of White men in busi­ness attire. The com­pa­ny acknowl­edges that DALL‑E “inher­its var­i­ous bias­es from its train­ing data, and its out­puts some­times rein­force soci­etal stereo­types.”

Co-cre­ator Day­ma does not duck the trou­bling impli­ca­tions and bias­es his baby could unleash:

While the capa­bil­i­ties of image gen­er­a­tion mod­els are impres­sive, they may also rein­force or exac­er­bate soci­etal bias­es. While the extent and nature of the bias­es of the DALL·E mini mod­el have yet to be ful­ly doc­u­ment­ed, giv­en the fact that the mod­el was trained on unfil­tered data from the Inter­net, it may gen­er­ate images that con­tain stereo­types against minor­i­ty groups. Work to ana­lyze the nature and extent of these lim­i­ta­tions is ongo­ing, and will be doc­u­ment­ed in more detail in the DALL·E mini mod­el card.

The New York­er car­toon­ists Ellis Rosen and Jason Adam Katzen­stein con­jure anoth­er way in which DALL‑E mini could break with the social con­tract:

And a Twit­ter user who goes by St. Rev. Dr. Rev blows minds and opens mul­ti­ple cans of worms, using pan­els from car­toon­ist Joshua Bark­man’s beloved web­com­ic, False Knees:

Pro­ceed with cau­tion, and play around with DALL‑E mini here.

Get on the wait­list for orig­i­nal fla­vor DALL‑E access here.


Relat­ed Con­tent

Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Brings to Life Fig­ures from 7 Famous Paint­ings: The Mona Lisa, Birth of Venus & More

Google App Uses Machine Learn­ing to Dis­cov­er Your Pet’s Look Alike in 10,000 Clas­sic Works of Art

Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence for Every­one: An Intro­duc­to­ry Course from Andrew Ng, the Co-Founder of Cours­era

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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