Day: June 16, 2018

Holy sh*t, Beyoncé and Jay Z just dropped a surprise album

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Sad about missing Beyoncé and Jay Z’s “On the Run II” tour? Well, now you don’t have to be.

Not exactly, anyway. The wife-and-husband power duo surprise released a new album — exclusively for Tidal, of course — on Saturday afternoon. The long-rumored joint album bears the title “Everything Is Love.”

To whet the appetites of all those non-Tidal subscribers out there, Bey shared a video snippet from one of the album’s nine tracks on Instagram. In the video, which is for a track called “APES**T,” she and Jay wander around the Louvre in a variety of different outfits while dancers do their thing. Read more…

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Facebook’s new AI research is a real eye-opener

There are plenty of ways to manipulate photos to make you look better, remove red eye or lens flare, and so on. But so far the blink has proven a tenacious opponent of good snapshots. That may change with research from Facebook that replaces closed eyes with open ones in a remarkably convincing manner.

It’s far from the only example of intelligent “in-painting,” as the technique is called when a program fills in a space with what it thinks belongs there. Adobe in particular has made good use of it with its “context-aware fill,” allowing users to seamlessly replace undesired features, for example a protruding branch or a cloud, with a pretty good guess at what would be there if it weren’t.

But some features are beyond the tools’ capacity to replace, one of which is eyes. Their detailed and highly variable nature make it particularly difficult for a system to change or create them realistically.

Facebook, which probably has more pictures of people blinking than any other entity in history, decided to take a crack at this problem.

It does so with a Generative Adversarial Network, essentially a machine learning system that tries to fool itself into thinking its creations are real. In a GAN, one part of the system learns to recognize, say, faces, and another part of the system repeatedly creates images that, based on feedback from the recognition part, gradually grow in realism.

From left to right: “Exemplar” images, source images, Photoshop’s eye-opening algorithm, and Facebook’s method.

In this case the network is trained to both recognize and replicate convincing open eyes. This could be done already, but as you can see in the examples at right, existing methods left something to be desired. They seem to paste in the eyes of the people without much consideration for consistency with the rest of the image.

Machines are naive that way: they have no intuitive understanding that opening one’s eyes does not also change the color of the skin around them. (For that matter, they have no intuitive understanding of eyes, color, or anything at all.)

What Facebook’s researchers did was to include “exemplar” data showing the target person with their eyes open, from which the GAN learns not just what eyes should go on the person, but how the eyes of this particular person are shaped, colored, and so on.

The results are quite realistic: there’s no color mismatch or obvious stitching because the recognition part of the network knows that that’s not how the person looks.

In testing, people mistook the fake eyes-opened photos for real ones, or said they couldn’t be sure which was which, more than half the time. And unless I knew a photo was definitely tampered with, I probably wouldn’t notice if I was scrolling past it in my newsfeed. Gandhi looks a little weird, though.

It still fails in some situations, creating weird artifacts if a person’s eye is partially covered by a lock of hair, or sometimes failing to recreate the color correctly. But those are fixable problems.

You can imagine the usefulness of an automatic eye-opening utility on Facebook that checks a person’s other photos and uses them as reference to replace a blink in the latest one. It would be a little creepy, but that’s pretty standard for Facebook, and at least it might save a group photo or two.

‘The Onion’ promises it won’t stop trolling Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is getting a taste of what happens when you piss off The Onion. 

The satirical news site has been relentlessly trolling Zuckerberg and Facebook for the past few days and promises it’s only getting started.

While the satirical site is known for lampooning just about anyone and everyone in the public eye, the publication has been relentlessly trolling Facebook, more so than usual. Four anti-Facebook posts were pinned to the top of its homepage for much of the day Friday, three of which mention Zuckerberg by name or feature his photo. Read more…

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