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This AI Draws Cities From Scratch

This AI Draws Cities From Scratch

These days, computers can identify objects with more accuracy than humans can. But can AI create new images from scratch, like a painter or an illustrator?

Slowly but surely, yes. Researchers Qifeng Chen and Vladlen Koltun built a neural net that can draw near-photorealistic images from scratch. Spotted by Prosthetic Knowledge, researchers only need to feed the AI a semantic label–think of that like a basic city map, complete with markers for where streets, cars, and trees should go. Then, the system can render that blueprint into a believable urban landscape that looks straight out of Google Street View.

In other words, the computer is painting-by-numbers at photo-realistic extremes.

How good is it? Fast forward to around 1:59, and you’ll essentially see what the video game Grand Theft Auto 5 would look like if given this same map. Perfect? Definitely not. Despite its HD resolution, the imagery definitely has an Adobe Illustrator filter quality to it, with the soft edges of a virtual artist’s brush. That said, it’s by no means disturbing to look at, either, as many of these experiments can be.

In fact, I’d argue that the scene actually looks like a real photograph that had a filter applied, rather than a computer painting a landscape from nothing. In this sense, it looks like something that might appear in your Instagram feed, which for 2017, might be real enough.MW