Cats are very intelligent, and much loved creatures. Their eyesight is 20 times better than a human’s, and their sense of smell is 40 times more powerful than ours. They can recognize over 100 different sounds and even distinguish between human voices.
Their ability to communicate and bond with humans has allowed them to become hugely popular household pets. The first cat was domesticated in Egypt around 10,000 years ago. The Egyptians believed that cats were sacred animals of Bastet.
Nowadays, there are more than 50 million pet cats in the United States alone, and more than 1 billion cats live on Earth! And the most wonderful thing about them is how each cat is unique, with its own markings, quirks, and characteristics.
Every cat owner will testify that their pet is special and individual, yet a new website has recently started posting photos of adorable kitties that are entirely computer-generated! That website is called: This Cat Does Not Exist.
In this article, we look at what technology is behind these scarily realistic pictures, the implications of this technology on the wider world, and whether these photos should appeal to or offend the cat-loving community.
What Exactly Is ‘This Cat Does Not Exist’?
As the title suggests, the website thiscatdoesnotexist.com features hundreds of photographs of cute felines that have been digitally created using 3D modeling, artificial intelligence technology, and advanced computer software.
Each time you refresh the page, a new computer-generated cat appears, and many of them are frighteningly realistic. Others are less so – with some pretty comical photos appearing where the cats have warped features and strange inconsistencies.
So far, the team responsible for creating the website has posted more than 500 photos of cats, all of which appear to be real. They’ve also made a number of videos featuring cats performing various tricks. In one video, a cat stands up on its hind legs while another plays dead.
Who Created ‘This Cat Does Not Exist’?
The website was developed by the creators of the hugely popular human version: this-person-does-not-exist.com, which first appeared in 2020.
The website contains hundreds of incredibly realistic photos of people, but they don’t actually exist. It quickly became apparent that the site could be used to create funny, scary, and sometimes disturbing images.
The website thisxdoesnotexist.com (This X Does Not Exist) explains how the technology used to generate each fictional person can actually be used to create fake versions of almost anything at all. Since its discovery, many, many spin-off websites have been created, including:
And many, many more!
What Are Generative Adversarial Networks?
The creators of these fake cat photos use a deep learning model and machine-learning technology that identifies and studies existing photos of real cats.
It absorbs all the information it can about the appearance, texture, proportions, and characteristics of real cats and then rearranges this information to create a new, unique cat of its own. This technology is known as GAN.
Generative adversarial networks (GANs) are a type of machine learning algorithm that uses two neural networks to work together. One network learns to produce something like an image, while the other tries to identify if it’s real or not.
GANs were originally designed to help computers learn to draw things like faces and landscapes, but they can be applied to any kind of data.
How Do These Photos Work?
To understand why the images appear so convincing, we need to take a closer look at how they’re created. A GAN consists of two separate neural networks, known as generators and discriminators.
The generator takes random numbers from a normal distribution then modifies them slightly to make them look like something else. For example, it might change the brightness of a picture, add shadows, or even distort objects.
The discriminator looks at the original photo and compares it to the modified version. If the difference between the two is too great, it will conclude that the image isn’t real. However, if there’s little difference, it’ll think the image is genuine.
In practice, these two networks work against each other. The generator tries to fool the discriminator into thinking that a particular image is real, while the discriminator tries to spot when the generator is faking.
Why Is This So Interesting?
It turns out that the same principles behind GANs can be applied to lots of different kinds of data. That means that you can use them to create fake pictures of virtually anything.
For example, researchers at Google recently demonstrated how they could use GANs to create fake images of people with different hairstyles. And last year, a group of scientists showed how they could use GANS to create fake videos of humans walking around.
Why Do People Create These Photos Of Cats?
There are several reasons why someone would want to create an image of a cat without actually having a cat.
For example, you may wish to post a picture of your cat on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. You might also use the photo to advertise your business.
Or perhaps you’re just looking for something fun to do on a rainy day. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that the majority of the photos on the website are not taken from real life. Instead, they are artificially created using computer programs.
Why Is GAN Controversial?
While GANs have been used in many applications over the years, their ability to generate realistic-looking images has led some people to question whether they should be allowed to exist. Some people believe that this technology creates images that are indistinguishable from reality.
This means that famous people can be made to look, say and do things that they have not really done. Even the most intelligent people are fooled by the life-like quality of the fake videos and photos.
GAN images make it hard to trust what you see and read on the internet and can help to spread fake news and misinformation. They also stand to get in the way of human art and creativity.
If computers start to compose songs, paint artwork and write novels for us, then what does that mean for our own talents?
How Can I Tell If A Photo On This Website Is Real Or Computer Generated?
If you visit the website, you’ll see that every single photograph contains a small disclaimer at the bottom. It reads: “All of the photos featured here are computer-generated.” So if you’re unsure whether a particular photo is real or fake, simply check the bottom of the page.
The website’s creator claims that he is not trying to deceive anyone into believing that his creations are genuine. He says: “I’m not trying to trick anybody. I’m just doing it because I love cats, and I think it’s hilarious.”
The technology used to create the cat photos on the website This Cat Does Not Exist is very impressive, and many of the photos are pretty cute. However, the technology also opens the door to misinformation and confusion, and we would much rather see a photo of a real kitty-cat any day!