After FaceApp, new AI tool turns selfies into creepy classical portraits

Researchers promise they won’t use your data, and any images you send are “immediately” deleted after use.

The last week on social media was like living in the future: All our friends were suddenly 80-years-old. However, the trend that's riding over netizens this week is moving back to the past. Way, way back!

Researchers at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab have created an online AI tool that turns your 2019 selfies into archaic portraits. They are calling it an artistic transformation. The tool is available on

Image: airportraits

Image: airportraits

The tool uses an algorithm trained on 45,000 classical portraits, which helps it to turn your face into an oil, watercolor, or ink portrait. There’s a huge number of styles included in this database, covering artists from Rembrandt to Titian to Van Gogh, with each input producing a unique portrait.

Apparently, the AI algorithm does not just copy the lines of your facial features and give it an effect of a portrait, it uses your facial lines as a base to generate an entirely new portrait. The algorithm is made of two neural networks, one learns to recognize portraits of people (Discriminator), and the other learns to generate them (Generator).

(Also read: Google's new art project PoemPortrait overlays your selfies with poems using AI)

If you are thinking about Google's Art and Culture app right now, hold on a second. You may remember it to be similar, but the Google app did not create a portrait out of your selfie, it simply matched it with your doppelgänger in one of several art museums worldwide.



Coming back to aiportraits, the algorithm apparently picks up certain elements from a picture to use a specific style in the portrait. Researchers say that the algorithm “decides upon a Renaissance style, highlighting the elegance of the aquiline nose, the smoothness of the forehead.”

Of course, by this point, you are also wondering about how safe this tool is considering we just recently learnt about the privacy loopholes that came with using FaceApp. However, researchers behind aiportraits promise they won’t use your data for any other purpose, and any images you send are “immediately” deleted after use. Can we trust them? Who knows, at this point!

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