I think everybody occasionally wonders whether somebody, somewhere is building an algorithm that will render their skills obsolete.

I worry about this all the time, despite the fact that AI / machine learning is supposed to struggle with creative tasks. You just never know…

A few years ago these concerns of mine were soothed a little by a short film called Sunspring. Filmmaker Oscar Sharp and creative technologist Ross Goodwin teamed up to build an AI that could write screenplays. They christened it Jetson and raised it on thousands of scripts from sci-fi TV shows and movies.

The AI analysed the scripts, figured out what was going on, came up with one of its own and produced Sunspring. The team then gave themselves 48 hours to shoot and edit the screenplay they’d created.

Here’s what happened:

Total nonsense. Drivel. Lunacy.

It’s very funny. But not intentionally funny.

I watched this and assumed that my livelihood was safe. AI can’t handle creative tasks. Case closed.

But then this happened.

Let’s take a closer look.

ai that turns photography into anime

That software is drawing anime. And it looks pretty good.

In fact, that software can do all kinds of stuff. Not from scratch, mind. It takes existing media or objects and re-renders them. But still…

It can turn cats into dogs. It can turn horses into zebras. It can turn landscape photography into impressionist oil paintings.

The AI was developed by a team of researchers at NCSoft, A Japanese gaming company. It uses a machine learning architecture called Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). This works by analysing massive amounts of training data – imagery, in this case – breaking it down into layers and identifying the most important layers.

You can find the code on GitHub, if you’re that way inclined.

Looks like no one’s job is safe, after all. Time to reskill.

If you need me, I’ll be learning how to build AIs using the fragments of HTML and CSS that I know.