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How do you do the AI art generator trend going viral on social media?

This artificial intelligence trend has people turning their portraits into works of art

Meredith Clark
New York
Wednesday 14 December 2022 11:41 GMT
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A new internet trend has people turning their self-portraits into historical figures, avatars, and all around hyper-stylized images.

AI-generated apps have taken social media by storm. Simply scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, one will find selfies from their friends or people they follow suddenly turned into works of art – all by downloading an app.

There are two AI art generators dominating everyone’s Instagram feeds. The first is called Lensa, a photo editing app which takes your selfies and turns them into what Lensa refers to as “magic avatars”. The app was launched in 2018 by Prisma Labs, but gained renewed interest this month after launching its avatar tool. Now, Lensa has become the top downloaded app in the Apple Store’s photo and video category, despite charging a hefty fee.

The second AI app that’s become its own TikTok trend is the AI Time Machine from the genealogy company, MyHeritage. This image generator lets users upload their pictures to see how they would look in the style of certain historical periods, such as 1920s flapper, a viking, or a hippie.

AI Time Machine available to use for free on the MyHeritage website and for free download on the App Store. Since people began posting their results of the AI Time Machine to TikTok, the hashtag #aitimemachine now has more than 37m views on the platform, with over 44m images generated within the last month.

How do you use the AI apps?

To use Lensa, first download the app from the App Store or Google Play. While the app is free to download, the photo editing tool asks users to sign up for a subscription, starting at $40 per year. The app will also prompt you to pay an extra $3.99 just to use the AI generator tool. However, the app offers a seven-day free trial, so be sure to cancel your subscription before being charged the annual fee.

Next, Lensa asks users to upload 10-20 pictures of themselves with a variety of backgrounds, angles, and facial expressions for the best results. Once the selfies are uploaded, Lensa creates 50 avatars (or more, at an extra cost) in 10 categories, each containing five different images. The categories are iridescent, light, stylish, anime, cosmic, fantasy, kawaii, pop, focus, and fairy princess.

Meanwhile, AI Time Machine from MyHeritage requires users to upload between ten and 25 different photos of themselves, ranging from full-body to close up shots. Start by clicking “Try it now,” and once the photos have been uploaded, users will be asked to type in a name and select a gender. It typically takes between 30 minutes to two hours to process the images, but users who sign up or log in will receive an email when they’re ready.

How does the AI app work?

Both Lensa and AI Time Machine use a text-to-image artificial intelligence model released in 2022 known as Stable Diffusion – which has been accused of stealing artwork from actual artists, according to The Verge.

What are the risks?

With any artificial intelligence software, there are always concerns with how companies are collecting data. While Lensa’s privacy policy states that the app “do[es] not use photos you provide…for any reason other than to apply different stylized filters or effects to them,” its terms of use says those who use Lensa grant the company “perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable, sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, create derivative works of your User Content, without any additional compensation”.

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