Researchers discover resolution limit to "upsampling" of pixelated faces

June 23, 2020


In news surprising only to CSI writers, AI researchers have discovered there is an inherent resolution limit to "upsampling" pixelated faces.

Duke University researchers have created an AI algorithm ("PULSE") that pixelates an uploaded picture of a human face and then explores the range of possible (computer-generated) human faces that could produce that pixelated face.

For starters, Rudin said, "We kind of proved that you can't do facial recognition from blurry images because there are so many possibilities. So zoom and enhance, beyond a certain threshold level, cannot possibly exist."

"A lot of algorithms in the past have tried to recover the high-resolution image from the low-res/high-res pair," Rudin said. But according to her, that's probably the wrong approach. Most real-world applications of this upsampling problem would involve having access to only the low-res original image. That would be the starting point from which one would try to recreate the high-resolution equivalent of that low-res original.

"When we finally abandoned trying to come up with the ground truth, we then were able to take the low-res [picture] and try to construct many very good high-res images," Rudin said.

So while PULSE looks beyond the failure point of facial recognition applications, she said, it may still find applications in fields that grapple with their own blurry images--among them, astronomy, medicine, microscopy, and satellite imagery.

So basically no matter how good our AI gets, we'll never be able to achieve bad-TV-levels of zooming and enhancing. But how about hacking? Will AI ever let us get to a point where we can just randomly bash on a keyboard and achieve elite levels of hacking?

Keep going for some more samples, as well as examples of how problematic the AI can be depending on biased training data.

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Futurama predicts the first half of 2020

June 23, 2020


This is an oddly prescient scene from Season 6 Episode 24 of Futurama, "Cold Warriors", that addresses both issues of quarantine and police brutality. The Simpsons usually gets a lot of credit for "doing it first", but this is spookily on the nose for 2020. Since they were so right about this, I can only assume this means we'll be spending the second half of 2020 giving all glory to the Hypnotoad.

Keep going for the full video.

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Another day, another botched art restoration

June 23, 2020


Remember back in 2013 when a lady in Spain tried to restore a famous fresco and the resulting "Monkey Christ" was, uh, less than spectacular? Well apparently Spain didn't learn their lesson and it's happened again.

Conservation experts in Spain have called for a tightening of the laws covering restoration work after a copy of a famous painting by the baroque artist Bartolom¨? Esteban Murillo became the latest in a long line of artworks to suffer a damaging and disfiguring repair.

A private art collector in Valencia was reportedly charged ?1,200 by a furniture restorer to have the picture of the Immaculate Conception cleaned. However, the job did not go as planned and the face of the Virgin Mary was left unrecognisable despite two attempts to restore it to its original state.

You know, it's really not that bad. I mean the restorer was blind, right? It's not so bad for a blind person. Wait, what? They weren't blind? They had functional eyes and the gift of sight? But then I guess their hands must have been smashed with hammers. What's that? Their hands were also fully functional? No missing fingers or anything? Look, next time just hire my niece. She's only four, but she would charge less and still do a better job. And when she inevitable screws it up (but not as badly as this person) you could just say, "But she was only four" and everybody would go "Awww" and forget about the whole thing.

Keep going for a shot of the "Monkey Christ" which, if you don't remember, is as hilarious as it is terrible.

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Strange meteorite-like object falls from sky in India

June 22, 2020


A meteorite-like object fell in Rajasthan, causing an explosion heard 2 km away and leaving a one-foot deep crater. The 2.78 kg object was emitting heat when discovered, and once cooled was sent to a lab to be analyzed:

The officials concerned also got it tested in a private lab located at the jeweller's shop in Sanchore who confirmed that the piece had metallic properties of Germanium, Platinium, Nickel and Iron (10.23 per cent of nickel, 85.86 per cent of iron, platinum 0.5 per cent, cobbit 0.78 per cent, geranium 0.02 per cent, antimony 0.01 per cent niobium 0.01 and other 3.02 per cent).

Looks like a space booger if ever I saw one. "What's a space booger?" It's a booger, but from space. Duh! I don't know why I always have to explain myself to people.

Keep going for a couple more shots of the space booger.

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Algonuts is machine generated Peanuts

June 22, 2020


Algonuts is the product of techno-artist shardcore, who trained a machine learning network on 18,000 of Charles Shulz Peanuts strips:

Charles Shulz, the creator and artist of the Peanuts comic strip, produced thousands of comics over 50 years. As a result, he is one of the few artists who have enough 'content' to train a styleGAN2 model. By extracting each frame from nearly 18,000 comic strips I was able to harvest 63,800 distinct images featuring Charlie, Snoopy, Peppermint Patty and the rest of the gang - plenty of food for the network to chew on.

Several hundred hours of computational time later, a network containing the 'visual DNA' of Peanuts emerged.

The results are interesting because you can clearly tell it's Peanuts, but they also make absolutely no visual sense. It's like when people look at my face. They can tell I'm super handsome, just none of my features really go together. Wait, when people turn away and scream it means you're handsome, right?

Keep going for one more sample of nightmare Peanuts.

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Ants running off with a chicken nugget

June 19, 2020


This is a video of a group of ants running off with a half-eaten chicken nugget. And I get it. I've ran off with my fair share of half-eaten chicken nuggets too. But did I get mine off the ground? Of course not. I'm not an animal. I prefer to source mine from the garbage like a gentleman.

Keep going for the full video of true teamwork in action.

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West Virginians petition to replace every Confederate statue with one of Mothman

June 19, 2020


West Virginians have started a petition to replace every statue of a Confederate icon with one of Mothman. It sounds like a joke, but the Mothman was actually first sighted in West Virginia in 1966 and has an actual cultural history there. According to an interview with Brenna, the one started the petition:

"These monuments aren't 'celebrating history'; they were specifically created to intimidate Black Americans," Brenna says. "Statues aren't needed to 'remember the past' when so many are still experiencing the repercussions today. Therefore, all monuments honoring the racist and oppressive history of the Confederacy should be removed. And who better to replace them than the Mothman?"

It's a pretty good idea, though I'd prefer if people supported my petition instead, which would replace the Confederate statues with statues of myself. Mothman is great and all, but did he once eat four Wendy's Baconators by himself without throwing up? I'm the real hero here.

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Polite Dachshund wipes paws before entering house

June 19, 2020


This is Dixie, the most polite mini-daschund you ever did see. After seeing her human wipe their feet on the doormat she walked over and did the same. From the owner:

"Took our dogs out for an evening walk as always, the grass had a small amount of residual moisture on it after a previous downpour. Our dogs love to run around in the grass and got very wet as a result. Dixie, our little miniature dachshund, always wipes her paws when they are wet even after a bath."

My dog does something similar, only instead of wiping her paws on the doormat she prefers to take a dump on my sofa and eat all my shoes. Twinsies, right??

Keep going for the full adorable video.

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