More advancements are being made in the realm of generative artificial intelligence—look at how you can now create images on Canva by simply providing descriptive words. Now, a new AI portrait app has people posting colorful custom cartoon avatars of themselves that look as if they were commissioned artwork.
You might have likely seen one of these highly stylized portraits online from a friend or a celebrity you follow. Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Celeste Cortesi recently posted an ethereal cartoon of herself on Facebook. Even Chance the Rapper, Lilly Singh, and Megan Fox posted pictures of the same style. Surprisingly, these weren't pieces made by artists but instead were generated by AI.
What is Lensa and how does it work?
These avatars were made with Lensa, an AI portrait app by Prisma Labs that has been downloaded by over 4 million people worldwide. The app boasts features including rendering magic avatars, retouching, smart eraser, and other pro adjustment functions. It's free to download from the App Store but to continue, you have to shell out P269 per month.
To create your magic avatar, you must submit at least 10 to 20 seflies for best results. The app then feeds your photos through the open-source Stable Diffusion model to turn them into portraits in different art styles as if a digital artist made them.
Controversy with the artist community
Lately, as Lensa trends online, artists have accused Stable Diffusion of using their art without permission. In addition, they have expressed concerns about how the app mass-produced images that imitate their art style for a cheap amount.
I’m cropping these for privacy reasons/because I’m not trying to call out any one individual. These are all Lensa portraits where the mangled remains of an artist’s signature is still visible. That’s the remains of the signature of one of the multiple artists it stole from.— Lauryn Ipsum (@LaurynIpsum) December 6, 2022
A 🧵 https://t.co/0lS4WHmQfW pic.twitter.com/7GfDXZ22s1
In a Twitter thread, Prisma Labs said that the avatars can't be described as "exact replicas of any particular artwork" as AI "recognizes the connections between the images and their descriptions, not the artworks."
Will AI replace human artists?
Lensa is but one of many AI apps in the world—there's DALL-E by OpenAI that can create realistic images and art from just a description. Aside from art, there's ChatGPT, an intelligent textbox that you can speak back and forth with on a wide range of subjects. You can even ask it to generate rap lyrics and possible topics for your essays.
Even with the prevalence of AI apps, they are just tools at the end of the day and won't ever replace humans, according to industry experts.
"As cinema didn't kill theater and accounting software hasn't eradicated the profession, AI won't replace artists but can become a great assisting tool," Prisma Labs said.
Tech YouTube creator Marques Brownlee even asked an AI chatbot why it won't replace humans and here's the answer he got: "AI might be able to perform some impressive tasks, but it can't replace online creators because it's not capable of imagination, creativity, and a human perspective. It's a tool, not a creator."