Mar 5, 2021

Hany Farid on the Technology of ‘Deep Nostalgia’

From CNN

A new program can animate old photos. But there's nothing human about artificial intelligence

By AJ Willingham

It's hard to explain the mix of emotions that spark upon seeing a photo of Frederick Douglass come alive with the click of a button. And yet, there he is, blinking and nodding as if he were just alive yesterday, as if he hadn't died in 1895, years before film recording became commonplace.

His animated image and others like it -- at the same time unsettling, emotional, and a bit fantastical, are made possible by Deep Nostalgia, an artificial intelligence program from the genealogy platform MyHeritage...

"The draw here is that visual imagery is visceral and compelling and we respond to it," says Hany Farid, associate dean and head of the School of Information at UC Berkeley. "We are visual beings. When you see your grandmother or Mark Twain come alive, there's something fascinating about it..."

"The way our brain processes images of people is different than inanimate objects. It taps into neural circuitry," Farid says. "For years we have been able to synthesize inanimate objects, and that completely fools the visual system because we don't have preconceived notions of how they move. But when it comes to humans, it is lagging. Part of that is the subtle way we move and recognize these movements."


Last updated:

March 5, 2021