Artificial intelligence technology has given new life to those who have passed away. This new technology has allowed faces in images to blink, smile, and even turn their heads.
This new program was made public on February 25th by the genealogy website MyHeritage. According to their blog post, the program called Deep Nostalgia, which was developed by a technology company called D-ID, provides life-like facial expressions in a digital format. The technique is called “deep learning” and it is trained to recognize facial characteristics from a painting or photograph so that it can be turned into an animation with incredibly realistic features.
As for how it works, two AIs create generative adversarial networks (GANs) with one of them creating content and the other evaluating the outcome so that it looks realistic. The GAN contains “blueprint videos” with several different combinations of eye, eyebrow, cheek, mouth, and head movements. The program then figures out which combinations would work best with each face. It works best when the person in the photograph is looking directly at the camera.
The end result may be less convincing if the program has to digitally add certain features like ears or teeth. Furthermore, if the subject is wearing a hat or glasses, they can hide some parts of the face which could make it harder for the program to incorporate realistic features. “...sometimes the simulated movement works well — and other times it does not,” the site read in part.
Each clip is only a few seconds in length but gives deceased individuals an incredibly realistic look with very real facial expressions. I know that many people would find this new technology comforting because it is like seeing a beloved member of the family come back to life, but isn’t it just a bit creepy?
Several examples of what the program can do – facial expressions given to Amelia Earhart (in 1937), Marie Curie (in 1920), and Charles Darwin (in 1855) can be seen here.
Several composers – Beethoven, Bach, and Clara Schumann, just to name a few – were also given new life by this new technology and their short videos can be viewed here.
Numerous other examples of the public’s deceased relatives can be seen on the MyHeritage blog post.