When you visit the website "This Person Does Not Exist" you will likely see a face smiling back at you. Seems innocent enough -- until you realize the face is not actually real, but generated by a neural network algorithm.
That person is not real. They don't exist.
The website's neural network algorithm codes a "facial image from scratch from a 512 dimensional vector", according to Phillip Wang, who created and posted about it in a Facebook group on Feb. 12. Wang suggested he created the site to "raise awareness for what a talented group of researchers made at Nvidia over the course of 2 years," according to a post in Hacker News.
The technology is based on a state of the art Nvidia-designed AI known as StyleGAN -- a neural network that can separate aspects of an image to learn and generate new images. It was detailed by a team of Nvidia engineers in a pre-print paper last updated on Feb. 6 at arXiv. The neural network is versatile enough that it is not just faces that it can conjure up, but bedrooms, cars and even cats.
I ran through a couple of refreshes and generated a whole range of faces that looked convincingly real. A small child even popped up and I kind of let out a weird "aww". Then I realized I was cooing over a computer-generated nobody. Super weird.
There are also occasions where strange artifacts appear on faces. I saw teeth between eyes, gaping mouths and strange swirls of red appearing on cheeks and brows.
The software is available on GitHub, but take note: It requires immense processing power that only top-end graphics processing units (GPUs) or cloud services can deal with.
It's also kind of creepy.
You can see how it works in the video below: