Just yesterday I ran into a new internet phenomenon that had me literally shouting at my computer screen, "Will all you people just calm down for a moment?"
What started me yelling at inanimate objects was a story about -- I shit you not -- an "AI-generated demon that is now haunting the internet." The claim is that an AI art generator -- a program that can produce art based upon various prompts -- had unexpectedly produced a horrifying image of a woman with sunken cheeks and decaying eyes, and that image somehow "became real" and is now showing up all over the place.
The first part is actually true. A woman named Steph Swanson, of Uppsala, Sweden, who goes by the online handle "Supercomposite," was working with something called a "negative weight prompt." A negative weight prompt is an AI command to create an image that is as different from the prompt as possible. So when Swanson was messing around with this idea, she put in a negative weight prompt using "Marlon Brando" as the input. The result looked like a business logo.
Which is, honestly, pretty different from a photograph of Marlon Brando.
When it got interesting was when she took the business logo image and used it as the input for a negative weight prompt. In a completely logical world, what you'd expect to get is Marlon Brando.
What she got was this.
I mean, really. I know there are a lot of superstitious people out there, and magical thinking is still all too common, but haven't we progressed as a society past the point where any sane adult thinks stepping on a crack in the sidewalk really will break your mother's back? Because that's all this is, with the added trappings of computers and AI.
I'm as curious as the next layperson as to why the algorithm brought up Loab's gruesome face; but I'd be willing to bet a significant amount of money that when the experts study this, they will not find out that it's because there's a real evil demon woman haunting our computers.
On the other hand, if the next time I open my laptop, my desktop background has been changed to an image of a hideous corpse-lady, I'll have to admit I was mistaken.
Assuming I don't scream like a little child and then have a stroke, which is honestly more likely.