Artificial Intelligence is, I think, more artificial than intelligent, sometimes. And that’s why it’s so fascinating. AI networks that use massive datasets of images to work with one another (or against one another, in the case of generative adversarial networks (GAN), somehow) have been shown to be capable of creating alarmingly-natural-looking human faces, for example. I’ve played with and written about (easily acessible) AI generative systems and cars before, but there’s something about the dynamically-morphing quality of this video that just kind of pushes it to another, uneasy level. Let’s look at some of the non-existent cars this algorithm created.
Oh, first, you should see the video! This was sent to me by my weirdo friend T.Mike, who found it on this Reddit post.
The original poster, Madeofants, describes the video as being an “Audio Reactive Interpolation using ‘cars’ StyleGan2” which means that the images change based on cues or patterns from the audio, and it’s using StyleGAN2, a generative adversarial network developed by Nvidia, and it was fed a dataset with pictures of cars.
Here’s the resulting video:
If you want to know more about how it was made, the original poster insists it was no biggie:
My first run at using this colab notebook that creates an amplitude map that is applied to output from a stylegan. This is fairly rudimentary!
Rudimentary, sure. Okay. Here’s a whole paper about how to do something this “rudimentary.”
More importantly, though, let’s check out some of the weird-ass generated cars this video produced. Like this one:
I like this one. It’s like some kind of strange little van/people carrier. Sort of Kei car tall-boy proportions.
This one feels like some of those Indian SUVs made by Force. Like one of the round-headlight Force Traxes.
This strange thing I really liked, because it feels like a modern version of one of those odd rear-engined Renault Project 900 concept cars:
Like, if that idea had caught on, this is what Renault would have been building in the early 2010s.
This one has kind of nice proportions, though. Reminds me of a BMW 1-series, a bit. How about this one:
That’s actually sleek! It feels like a modern Aston Martin, maybe, with a bit of the new Nissan Z in there?
Then there’s this thing. Sort of Camaro-ish? Like an almost Audi-fied Camaro?
This one is a bit clunkier, looks much more American—possibly Australian. Late muscle-car era, perhaps?
This not-quite-right transitionary car I wanted to show you because it’s clear the AI hasn’t completely decided if we’re looking at the front or back here. We have both almost-headlights and almost-taillights on the rear, and everything else is in a weird tension of coming and going.
This hurts my brain.
Okay, this is a bit better. Feels like maybe if a small Brazilian or maybe Chinese carmaker bought the old Jeep XJ Cherokee presses and made their own version.
This one feels like it could be a Toyota Land Cruiser variant, or maybe a joint GM-Toyota SUV project from the early 2000s.
I like this weirdo. Feels like a Polish or maybe Romanian compact SUV. Pre-Duster Dacia thing, maybe.
We’re still in Eastern Europe with this guy, too. Something based on a Fiat long ago, and developed haphazardly over the decades. Not a bad car, really. Big competition for cars like the Renault 12-based Dacia 1300 or something.
We haven’t left Eastern Europe yet, because this feels like a rear-engined Skoda that never quite got to exist. A lower-end one, but pretty popular.
Okay, this looks like it might have been the result of a joint project between AMC and Mercedes-Benz in the mid-to-late 1960s. I like it!
Oh, now this is really cool. Feels British, like maybe a smaller Jensen Interceptor-type of GT car, but like half the price. Something for people who wanted more than an MGB GT but couldn’t quite afford the Jensen.
Hey, this one is lovely! Could even be Italian. Reminds me of something like an Iso Rivolta, an Italian company that used an American V8 drivetrain. Maybe from the late ‘60s, and Studebaker, in a last attempt to get some more revenue, provided the engines.
This one is pretty weird. Maybe a low-volume coachbuilder slapped these together on lowered Ford F-100 chassis, with fiberglass bodies and a front clip from a British Ford Prefect or Anglia in the early 1960s.
Wow, look at this handsome fella! Okay, this was an upmarket competitor to the Mustang from, um, Chrysler, let’s say, branded as an Imperial Chariot, from, like 1968.
Okay, this classy barge is from an alternate 2010 where Daewoo didn’t suck so much and became a premium brand, with success here in America. This was their big Lincoln competitor, which took a lot of airport black car sales from Lincoln.
And finally, we have Nissan’s abortive attempt to bring the Sentra name up-market, with the Sentra Senator. Not a bad car, but just felt too, you know, Sentra-ish.
Why are these so fascinating? How is it that all of these I grabbed were able to convey such a clear story to me so quickly? Am I on base with these imagined explanations? I want to know what you see in these—they’re like automotive Rorschach tests, and I want to find the real you, so tell me in the comments!