This Machine Paints Jewish Lawyers

Parents: Don’t let your kids take out student loans to become studio artists.

That’s because computers, which have already proven their ability to beat humans by playing chess and delivering junk mail, can now produce custom oil paintings – or photographs, or pictures in the style of your favorite Chinese dynasty – simply in response to a description.

The algorithm underlying this ability, called generative adversarial networks, was published in 2014. But it’s not just the math at work – it’s also a database of most billions of images. available on the internet for a hungry machine to download.

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This means that these artificial artists need both clever programmers to tweak the algorithms and deep pockets to afford to store all the masterpieces of human civilization, as well as the far more numerous lesser works, including bad memes. (But not too bad memes — the companies behind it are trying to keep their art-generating golems from learning from the internet’s worst sewers.)

A few months ago, the site began offering access to last year’s version of this technology which, like a child with shaky hand-eye coordination, does surrealism better than realism. (This image of a “Martian Synagogue” was made using this program.)

But the breakthrough came in April, when OpenAI – an artificial intelligence company that has received billions of dollars in investment from Elon Musk and Microsoft, among others – launched DALL-E 2, which can create images photorealistic from text prompts. And while initially only corporate researchers could use the program, OpenAI has gradually extended access to people on a waiting list.

(Google is also playing this game, showing even more vivid images produced by its Imagen system – which, however, is no longer open for private use.)

At first, the released DALL-E 2 images were what you’d expect with technology in the hands of tech nerds: Bears programming computers, Darth Vader on the cover of Vogue; a monkey with sunglasses smoking a cigarette and watching the sunset, a painting of tigers wearing VR headsets in the Song dynasty.

But on May 27, Noam Zur, apparently an Israeli who has access to Dall-E2 and identifies himself as “a proud Orthodox Jew,” began tweeting, under the account name @avocados_ai, “scenes of Jewish life , illustrated by lawyers.”

He asked the machine to produce images such as “Avocado mom and avocado daughter, lighting Shabbat candles together” and “Avocado returns to the land of Israel after 2000 years of exile, oil painting” and “A Jewish Lawyer Gazing at the Night Sky, He Seeks the First Three Stars”, an oil painting by Vincent Van Gogh.

He has tweeted 48 times so far, with some offering numerous images in response to the same prompt.

BACK TO THE FUTURE OF ART AND ART STUDENTS: If five years ago you wanted a coffee table or a novelty book about lawyers living their best Jewish lives in a variety of art styles, you’d have to calculate the cost of commissioning dozens of pieces of art from artists skilled enough to work in a variety of styles. And you’d expect to pay each artist for the many hours it took to create the artwork – far fewer hours for artists using digital painting tools like Photoshop than using oils needed a generation ago. , but many hours nonetheless. It’s hard to imagine enough people paying for a book on the art of the Jewish lawyer to make it a profitable business.

Now, each image is generated in minutes.

Oh, what a brave new world that contains such Jewish lawyers.

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