Robots Weekly ?: Check Out Dem GANs ?


Generative Adversarial Network. It is a network of two adversarial neural nets dealing with generated content.


They are the driving force behind the crazy creative abilities of neural networks. They are also, in many cases, the building blocks of deepfakes.


GANs pit two neural nets against each other: the generator and the discriminator. They are the adversaries that give this type of networks it’s name.

The generator creates something, usually an image, that appears real/authentic. It’s like a forger.

The discriminator tries to separate real from fake, like an auction house, say Christie’s for example.

The two adversaries go back and forth using the original data as well as the experience gained during the process to improve and try to beat the other.

I like this illustration from DataCamp, you can check out their post about GANs for more in-depth descriptions and info.


I have a thing for flamingos (not that kind of thing, you weirdo). It started as a family joke and has taken on a life of its own. So they seem like the perfect bird to subject to these shenanigans. I’ll be using two different tools to generate these images, one is Microsoft’s Drawing Bot, which “specializes” in birds, and the other is called AttnGAN. Both are super easy, and fun, to use so go nuts.

First, for reference, this is what a flamingo looks like:

from Wikimedia Commons

Here’s what happened when I asked those GANs to make me “a flamingo”:

Those are decidedly not flamingos. Or pink. Or close in any way. Alright, that’s not totally fair, Drawing Bot’s bird does have a long bill.

Let’s see if being more descriptive helps. These next images were generated using the description of the Greater Flamingo from my National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds. It happened to be on my desk so it was a handy reference.

Drawing Bot at least got the coloration in the ballpark this time. Although it is becoming apparent that it draws all birds roughly the same size.

Now let’s try a Roseate Spoonbill. Why? Because it’s next to the Greater Flamingo in my handy field guide! And because one of our fearless Outpost Pack Leaders spotted one while birding at The Bend not long ago. Here’s what this fine feathered friend looks like IRL:

And this is what the bots think it looks like just based on its name:

Yup, I broke Drawing Bot. AttnGAN gave me something, something that makes me feel grossed out and slightly uncomfortable for some reason.

Now let’s see if the Audubon’s description helps:

Something has gone terribly wrong with Drawing Bot, where did the head go?! AttnGAN seems to think I asked for a magnified view of a leaf.

To break down these two toys, Drawing Bot draws birds and nothing but birds. AttnGAN draws acid trip-fueled abstractions of what you ask for, kind of, maybe. Proof?

The moral of the story kids: stay in art school.

Or hire our designers, this is what they think birds look like:


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