Fake 70's Sci-Fi Courtesy Of Open AI
Written by David Conrad   
Sunday, 13 February 2022

No, this isn't a vintage Si-Fi paperback from a newly discovered author. Both the author's name and the book's title are AI generated, as is the cover artwork. Sadly the story hasn't been written.

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We haven't got Book Watch mixed up with news. These mock 1970's SciFi book covers are from a set created with the help of algorithms and AI by Lewis Hackett who was interviewed by Peter Kirn for cdmblogs, which reports daily news about digital music and technology.  

This isn't the first time we've reported on artistic fakes and the use of machine learning for style transfer in which new works mimic existing ones. What is interesting here is the use of two separate AI techniques - Clip Guided Diffusion for the imagery and and GPT-3 for ideas the titles and the author names.

Explaining his desire to incorporate widely available AI processes into his creative workflows, Hackett explained his approach:

I’ve been experimenting with various Google Colab notebooks to see how I can incorporate AI / GAN [Generative Adverserial Networks] techniques into my creative workflows, both for idea generation and for finding interesting ways to use them conceptually.

When exploring CLIP guided diffusion notebooks I came across ‘nshepperd’s JAX CLIP Guided Diffusion v2.3‘ which is based on Katherine Crowson‘s CLIP guided diffusion notebook. I’m a huge fan of 70s sci-fi artwork and tried various prompts around the theme of ’70s sci-fi book cover artwork’ which already produced some amazing results. I fine-tuned the prompt and ran off a batch of about 100 variations with different seed values.

Next, I started testing out OpenAI’s GPT-3 since it became publicly accessible in November 2021. I opened up a chat conversation and asked it for ‘title ideas for my science fiction novel’, and followed up with other queries such as ‘something more mysterious’ or ‘something less obvious’ until it started giving me interesting titles. I repeated the same process but instead asked it for fake author names.

Once I had the titles and authors, I used these to help curate the final collection of generated artworks and created the typography using popular fonts from the 70s.

The resulting covers are sufficiently convincing to make any afficianado of the genre want to open up the paperback to read the story. Given the abilities of GPT-3 to generate convincing dialog and narratives that might not be such a far-fetched idea. as Hackett hints in the interview:  

"I’m equally interested in the concept of having a complete product generated with AI techniques. Even though it required my input and curation, I expect that this might lessen over time as the technologies advance and we finally get to see the electric sheep that androids dream about."

As the tools he used are all open source, anyone else can pick up the baton and run with it.

We've already seen Facebook and Microsoft run a challenge to detect when AI has been used to alter videos in order to mislead views, will there be new competitions to uncover fake literary works penned by AI? 

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More Information

Artist uses AI to perfectly fake 70s science fiction pulp covers

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 February 2022 )