Deep Nostalgia AI brings old photos to life with ‘creepy’ accuracy

Cutting edge tool creates ‘high-quality video animation of an individual face that can smile, blink, and move’

Anthony Cuthbertson
Monday 01 March 2021 21:30 GMT
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Deep Nostaligia animates faces in still photos to ‘give family history fresh new perspective'
Deep Nostaligia animates faces in still photos to ‘give family history fresh new perspective'
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A new artificial intelligence tool that transforms still images into moving video with uncanny realism has been branded “creepy” by online users.

The Deep Nostalgia AI was developed by genealogy service MyHeritage to allow people to bring the past back to life, however the deepfake technology has also raised questions about privacy and security.

MyHeritage describes its cutting edge tool as a way to “give family history a fresh new perspective by producing a realistic depiction of how a person could have moved and looked” if they were captured on video.

“The result is a short, high-quality video animation of an individual face that can smile, blink, and move.”

Examples shared online show animations of people’s relatives, as well as historical figures like Napoleon Bonaparte and Alexander the Great.

In order to use the tool, MyHeritage requires people to sign up with an email address and agree to its terms and conditions and privacy policy. The user then needs to upload one of their family photos in order to apply the Deep Nostalgia AI to it.

MyHeritage also runs the photograph through a sharpening process that enhances the original image. It is able to colourize black and white photos and bring blurry photos into sharp focus using a deep learning algorithm.

“I’m not really sure how I feel about this Deep Nostalgia AI thing,” Twitter user Garth Humphreys wrote. “Aspects of it are interesting but then I start thinking about the potential security issues and also how creepy it is.”

The company previously experienced a major data breach in 2018, exposing personal information of over 92 million user accounts.

MyHeritage addressed concerns about the use of deepfake technology in its FAQs about Deep Nostalgia.

“This feature is intended for nostalgic use, that is, to bring beloved ancestors back to life,” the firm’s website states.

“Some people love the Deep Nostalgia feature and consider it magical, while others find it creepy and dislike it. The results can be controversial, and it’s hard to stay indifferent to this technology.”

The UK government is currently considering legislation that would make it illegal to create deepfake videos without consent.

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