Culture

Bob Ross painting trees via AI is like a drug-fueled nightmare

Watch at your own risk as an episode of "The Joy of Painting" turns into a bizarre, kaleidoscopic acid trip.

The late artist Bob Ross was known for his calm, almost ASMR-like voice, his '70s permed hair and his expert-level technique for making "happy little trees" from oil paint.

But what happens when you filter an episode of his PBS TV show "The Joy of Painting" through the neural net? You end up with a show that looks like something from a bad acid trip.

In the video "Deeply Artificial Trees" by artBoffin we see exactly what goes wrong when machine learning filters a seemingly innocent painting show into the imaginings of a sci-fi movie gone wrong.

"This artwork represents what it would be like for an AI to watch Bob Ross on LSD (once someone invents digital drugs)," artBoffin writes in the video description. "It shows some of the unreasonable effectiveness and strange inner workings of deep learning systems. The unique characteristics of the human voice are learned and generated, as well as hallucinations of a system trying to find images which are not there."

At the beginning of the video, Ross pets what looks like a gerbil from hell. The painting Ross is working on should have happy little trees, but instead it's infested with giant cockroaches. And it just gets weirder from there.

Watching the video I saw numerous horrific, squiggly animal creations that would inspire the likes of H.P. Lovecraft. I may never be able to fall sleep again.

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