Google’s DeepDream code unleashed a disturbing photo trend on the internet this summer.
In June this year, a Google Research Blog post titled Inceptionism: Going Deeper into Neural Networks described how an artificial intelligence (AI) program created by scientists at Google ‘reads’ and interprets images.
This neural network AI analysis – dubbed DeepDream – can be keenly tuned to recognise specific images to the point that it will find them even where they don’t exist. Just think of how the human mind can perceive various objects in cloud formations and you get the gist.
Google researchers decided to turn the DeepDream code on its head, and use it to generate new pictures based on the visualisations of artificial neural networks’ attempts to identify details in an image.
They even used DeepDream to process a random-noise image, so that the result becomes purely the result of the neural network, and the results were quite beautiful.
In July, Google made DeepDream code publicly available, and that’s when things got out of hand. A swathe of custom images, GIFs and videos started to spread online using the hashtag #DeepDream.
At first, it was just a little trippy, but still quite pretty.
But, this being the internet, things quickly took a turn for the weird.
Oh lord what have I done #deepdream #lovelive @LoveLive_staff pic.twitter.com/KZdgrrmDzJ
— Colin (@BloodyStapler) July 2, 2015
Those networks trained to recognise animals were finding hybrid puppy-slugs everywhere.
A rare photography of The Puppyslug Nebula from the Hubble Telescope. #deepdream pic.twitter.com/YjslsSlYAo
— Devine Lu Linvega (@neauoire) July 2, 2015
The NSA HQ got weird.
#deepdream NSA Headquarters. We all knew. pic.twitter.com/K7sTwERQCM
— samim (@samim) July 2, 2015
Exploring got weird.
"Yeah well, it did get a little weird… but I would totally go back." #deepdream pic.twitter.com/KAz9goRm0T
— John Mendonca (@johnmendonca) July 2, 2015
Jungles got weird.
This creeps me out more than it should @mtyka @317070 @sedielem #deepdream pic.twitter.com/CN0H0n0fa5
— hut (@hutstaender) July 2, 2015
Cycling got weird.
ok now this creeps me out #deepdream pic.twitter.com/N50HTFv5IA
— Некстджен и Усиление (@turbojedi) July 2, 2015
Mad Max got weird.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD #deepdream pic.twitter.com/8P6ZYf5Dab
— ゴッドスコーピオン (@GoddoSukoupion) July 4, 2015
Art got weird.
Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights #deepdream pic.twitter.com/tqPM6uMlBx
— Vilson Vieira (@aut0mata) July 2, 2015
Dank memes got weird.
#deepdream http://t.co/Iq238QKwiA pic.twitter.com/SBBy8vQO8r
— Deepdream bot (@DeepdreamBot) July 7, 2015
Stock photos from the corporate world got weird(er).
#deepdream stockphotography, (c) gettyimages. Generative Copyright? Get ready for a interesting debate. pic.twitter.com/wLu0P5C37v
— samim (@samim) July 2, 2015
And that was just the start. Soon, unsettling DeepDream visualisations were ruining lives.
Happy Cat, ruined.
happycat, bifurcated #deepdream pic.twitter.com/wrj54Ctwqv
— cdotwright (@cdotwright) July 2, 2015
@kcimc this little monster is a half eaten doughnut 😀 https://t.co/zZ5euPgvsF #deepdream
— Dunks (@dunknicoll) July 2, 2015
Don't eat before bed. #spaghetti #deepdream pic.twitter.com/FCyrXUDrN8
— Thorne Brandt (@thornebrandt) July 4, 2015
DeepDream: the first internet meme to give us all a regret-filled hangover.
Keep watching Siliconrepublic.com as we look back on the greatest memes of 2015. Let us know your favourite at @siliconrepublic on Twitter.
Main image from Google’s collection of DeepDream images on Google Photos