They aren’t just creating armies of fictional smiling girls for the fun of it!

Kyoto-based startup DataGrid made quite a stir in otaku circles five months ago when they posted a video featuring the fruits of their labor: a litany of fresh-faced, unthreatening girls with sweet smiles and dimpled cheeks. Unlike AKB48 or even the cheery 2.5D girls of 22/7, however, these girls were generated entirely from the data banks of a computer.

▼ You can practically hear the synthesized, saccharine love ballads spilling from their lips.

Since the video came out it’s attracted a lot of attention for its eerily perfect idol girls, who are created using DataGrid’s GAN (generated adversarial network). Using “deep learning” machine learning techniques, the AI was fed a steady stream of existing idol images and had it analyze them independently for what features it felt best represented…well, idol-ness. Equipped with an awareness of idol essence, it then constructed its own faces according to its tastes.

▼ Things get confusing when you add accessories to the mix, hence this girl’s alien symbiote of a barrette.

The girls created by this AI are undoubtedly cute and would fit into any line-up of promising idols. But we can’t help but wonder: why make such an AI in the first place? DataGrid’s CEO, Yuuki Okada, outlined their mission:

“Since the company was founded in 2017 at Kyoto University’s Venture Incubation Center (KUVIC), we’ve had the idea of developing creative AIs capable of generating their own valuable content: images, designs, music and so on. People assume that the creative work done by designers and creators, such as drawing pictures and writing flashy catchphrases, absolutely must be done by human, but actually we’ve managed to create AIs that can make their own content, aiming to kickstart their creative potential.”

▼ Evidence of creative potential: whatever that girl in the center is wearing on her head.

Okada continued, “Most AI work performed until now has been about recognizing data, or predicting trends, and very few AI were developed to create content of their own. At DataGrid, by pushing AI to create content, we hope to inspire a society where humans and AI work together to inspire new, stimulating creations.”

It’s still too early in the false idols’ existence for society to come to any sort of consensus on them, but online comments so far have included:

“They don’t age, they don’t get into scandals, you can make them work wherever and whenever. Why not make all idols like this?”
“Man… all the news like this coming out lately has me feeling more and more like we’re in a dystopia, LOL. Still, cant wait to see where they’ll be at in ten years.”
“At first I didn’t know what the heck was happening, but now I think it’s pretty neat.”

The list of potential projects cited by Okada whets the appetite for more computer-assisted creativity, though. We’ve already seen that the smoothness of animation can be bolstered with AI assistance, and soon computers will be producing more and more cute anime girls for us to enjoy. But original images and music? That’ll be something truly unreal.

Source: Nikkei XTREND via Hachima Kikou
Images: YouTube/株式会社データグリッド