Let this AI bot turn your words into vaguely-recognizable pictures

It gets weird.


An AI interpretation of the phrase: “laboratory.”

Artificial intelligence already affects most of our lives in a variety of ways, like helping you drive, sprucing up our food Instagram pictures, and even helping to diagnose diseases. AI crunches data differently than humans, which is why communicating with it in our weird, inconsistent language can turn up such wacky results. The latest collection of strange AI creations comes from an Attentional Generative Adversarial Network that translates typed words into a visual image.

Cristobal Valenzuela, who builds machine learning tools, created the site to demonstrate how AI can parse words and try to convey their meaning in a visual way.

It was first spotted by the excellent AI Weirdness blog, which succinctly describes the entire process as like “a visual chatbot in reverse.” Instead of trying to tell you what’s in a picture, the algorithm tries to generate a picture from what you tell it. The concept is based on research from a paper published last year called AttnGAN: Fine-Grained Text to Image Generation with Attentional Generative Adversarial Networks

The bot draws from a collection of objects on which it was trained. As a result, it’s much more accurate with everyday objects that easily translate into a picture. Things get a lot more abstract when you start feeding it nebulous terms, complex concepts, or, my personal favorite, wacky nonsense.

We fed some science terms into the tool to see what it could do. The results are predictably bizarre, at least to my non-robot brain.

You can try your own phrases here, but be warned that heavy traffic from Twitter has made the service a little unreliable.

Recycled Materials

An AI interpretation of the phrase: “Recycled materials.”

Chemical Reaction

An AI interpretation of the phrase: “Chemical reaction.”

Mars Rover

An AI interpretation of the phrase: “Mars rover.”

Asteroid field

An AI interpretation of the phrase: “Asteroid field”

Big Bang

An AI interpretation of the phrase: “Big bang.”

Extra-terrestrial Life

An AI interpretation of the phrase: “Extra-terrestrial life.”

Climate Change

An AI interpretation of the phrase: “Climate change”

Space ship

An AI interpretation of the phrase: “Space ship.”
Stan Horaczek
Stan Horaczek

is the senior gear editor at Popular Science and Popular Photography. His past bylines include Rolling Stone, Engadget, Men's Journal, GQ, and just about any other publication that has ever written about gadgets. For a short time, he even wrote the gadget page for Every Day With Rachel Ray magazine. He collects vintage cameras, eats pizza, and hopes you won't go looking at his Tweets even though the link is down there.