This morning, I was able to admire myself as what I hope was a senior member of French royalty back in the day. I was also able to giggle at the sight of myself as an arctic explorer and pirate, and be more than grateful that I never rocked a Seventies hairstyle.
This hour of fun was made possible by MyHeritage’s newest opium for the social media masses, an AI Time Machine that has taken the web by storm.
The process is pretty simple: you upload around 10 photos of yourself – some selfies, some full-length, others from various angles – pay a few dollars and wait between 30 and 90 minutes to discover what you’d have looked like had you been born decades or centuries ago or in the future.
With timeframes ranging from the ancient pharaohs and Greeks to medieval Europe, 16th century France or the Ottoman Empire all the way up to the Swinging Sixties and even our future cyborg selves, there really is something to tickle everyone’s taste.
As an art history fan, I was super excited and quite flattered to see supposed Rembrandt, Klimt and Van Gogh portraits of me, while as an averagely vain person I was absolutely horrified to see what artificial intelligence made of me as a 1920s person and as an astronaut.
As the illustrations throughout the article show, some portrayals were more lifelike than others, and some bore more resemblance to me than the rest. It also seemed that the AI Time Machine had a bit of a hard time with my glasses, and for some reason in almost all of the photos my eyes are light blue, despite them being perfectly brown in reality.
According to the Israel-based online genealogy platform MyHeritage, more than 79 million AI images have been generated on its time machine since the service became available, with many, many millions of them being shared on social media, as you may have noticed.
“AI Time Machine utilizes text-to-image technology licensed from Astria,” the company notes on its website.
“Using a number of photos of one subject, it constructs a model that can depict the same person in a variety of poses and lighting conditions that are different from those in the original photos. Then, using a series of predefined themes, it synthesizes the model with motifs from the various themes to craft photorealistic images.”
MyHeritage stipulates that users don’t upload photos of children, people in swimsuits or explicit photos. It also recommends avoiding sunglasses and heavy makeup for optimal results, as well as a variety of poses.
The service doesn’t do group or couples photos, so you can’t yet reimagine you and your loved ones on the Western frontier all those years ago.
You can, however, get a glimpse of what you might look like as a future cyborg, which from fresh personal experience is not too frightening.
The time machine isn’t MyHeritage’s first foray into online fun. Last winter, it debuted its Deep Nostalgia photo-animation feature, which saw old family pictures come to life with animation.
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