It’s time to say bye-bye to the AI Ai.

Just last week Shueisha, publisher of Japan’s Weekly Playboy magazine (no relation to the American Playboy) announced the debut of a new model, Ai Satsuki. Ai was billed as being “stuffed full of men’s ideals,” and concurrent with her appearance in a photo spread of that week’s issue of Weekly Playboy, Shueisha released a digital photo album for her titled Umaretate, which translates to “just born.”

That wasn’t just a reference to Ai’s first professional modeling appearances, though, but to the fact that she didn’t exist at all until very recently. Ai wasn’t a photographed model, but a series of images created by AI.

▼ Ai Satsuki

While AI-generated images of gravure models (models who pose in swimsuits, lingerie, and other revealing outfits) have been gradually spreading on Japanese social media and websites in recent months, Ai represented the first high-profile attempt by a Japanese publisher to turn an AI model into a commercial venture. The high quality of the images did a remarkably effective job at avoiding visual glitches and uncanny valley creepiness, but while there were few complaints about how Ai looked, apparently no small number of people took issue with what Ai was, and so Shueisha has made the decision to swiftly and completely cancel sales of her photo album as well as any other projects involving her that were in the works.

In regard to the decision, Shueisha says:

“Since [the issue of Weekly Playboy in which Ai Satsuki appears and her digital photo album] went on sale, we have heard many opinions, and our editorial department has reexamined the project. As a result, considering the image creation process, the editorial department has concluded that its examination of the points of debate and potential problems of generative AI have not been sufficiently examined. Looking ahead to the likelihood of a deepening worldwide debate on the commercialization of AI generated content, we feel that this requires more careful consideration.

As a result, we will be ending sales of Ai Satsuki’s digital photo album Umaretate.”

The announcement was posted to Shueisha’s Weekly Playboy Gravure Japan website on July 7, with sales of Ai’s photo album ceasing on the site’s online store at 11 a.m. the same day, and by the end of the day on other digital platforms, leaving those wanting to make a purchase only hours to do so. In addition to halting sales of Umaretate, Shueisha has also deleted Ai’s Twitter account.

While not specifically mentioned in the statement, the ostensible hurdle is the manner in which AI creates images. Many programs capable of generating high-quality images do so by using preexisting images as initial inputs, raising the question of what sort of ownership claims the creators of those original images have over the AI’s output.

“Even if she doesn’t actually exist, the love for her that sprouts in your heart is real,” Shueisha proudly said when announcing her debut, and now fans of her short-lived career will have to apply that sentiment to their memories as well.

Source: Weekly Playboy Gravure Japan via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Weekly Playboy Gravure Japan
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