When it comes to dating, most of us have a physical “type” that we’re most attracted to.
But a group of scientists have trained an artificial intelligence to create the perfect face for every one of us.
The AI researchers, working at the University of Helsinki and University of Copenhagen, used an electroencephalograph (EEG) to read the brainwaves of 30 volunteers while it showed them a variety of faces on a screen.
By learning exactly how the brain’s pleasure centres lit up for each image, the AI was able to create a synthetic face that was perfectly targeted for each participant – a face that was absolutely matched to their preferences.
The new “perfect” faces were then shown to the volunteers – and the expected brain activity showed that the AI’s matchmaking was over 80% on-target.
The team’s paper, published in scientific journal IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, explains: "While we instantaneously recognise a face as attractive, it is much harder to explain what exactly defines personal attraction.
“A brain-computer interface such as this is able to interpret users’ opinions on the attractiveness of a range of images,” explained the project lead, Academy Research Fellow and Associate Professor Tuukka Ruotsalo.
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Naturally enough, one of the first industries that is likely to start exploiting this new tech will be the porn business.
Dutch cybersecurity startup Deeptrace estimated in late 2019 that 96% of all deepfakes online were pornographic. By 2022, they say, that number will be more like 720,000.
With AI training itself to create your “perfect” partner, custom-made erotic content tuned to your individual “type” can only be a few years away.
As is often the case in this kind of AI research, the University of Helsinki’s perfect faces were created by a generative adversarial network (GAN) in which two neural networks compete with each other and pass data back and forth until they achieve a “perfect” result.
The program that trained the AI “worked a bit like the dating app Tinder,” explained senior researcher Michiel Spapé from the Department of Psychology and Logopedics, University of Helsinki.
He added that by adding “mind reading” to an AI’s range of senses makes them even more efficient at working out what humans really want to see: “Computer vision has thus far been very successful at categorising images based on objective patterns.
"By bringing in brain responses to the mix, we show it is possible to detect and generate images based on psychological properties, like personal taste,” he told ScienceMint.
A website called This Person Does Not Exist publishes a near-infinite number of the fake faces online, created in real time every time you refresh the page. They’re randomly-created, rather than trained by your brainwaves, but the effect is still chillingly realistic.
“A year ago, this was a novelty,” says Ben Nimmo, director of investigations at social media intelligence group Graphika. “Now it feels like every operation we analyse tries this at least once.”
Artificial faces are already being used to fool people online. The alleged leak of secret data from Hunter Biden – son of president Joe Biden – was masterminded by a "Swiss security analyst" named Martin Aspen. But Aspen never existed and his face was created by an AI.
Nina Schick, author of Deepfakes: The Coming Infocalypse predicts that these “perfect” AI-created faces will be used increasingly online.
She told the Daily Star: "We are increasingly facing a future where media and content production is going to be made by AI."
“Some experts who I interviewed for my book said that within five to seven years’ time 90% of video content online is going to be synthetic.”
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