‘Deep Nostalgia’ is the AI tool that freely animates the long-dead faces in your photo album. But is it cool, or wholly unsettling?
On the mantlepiece of my childhood home sits the photo of my dear departed uncle, Greg. Forever kept in that red plaid shirt, he’s leaning against his prized burgundy Kingswood at a beach somewhere. Dead at 42, everyone at his funeral agreed that he was taken too soon. However, to those who knew him, and endured him, as he loved his car more than his kids and drove one wife away (and then another), uniformly agreed that it wasn’t soon enough.
Yet, Greg sits up there, very much dead, but kept in a sort of noble stasis. Yet, in the age of AI, he may live again. Calling itself ‘Deep Nostalgia’, this tech tool vows to animate the photos of the dead. By ways of an example, the platform decided to reanimate a notably dead dude, Abraham Lincoln.
Genealogy platform MyHeritage introduced a new AI tool that allows you to animate old photographs of dead relatives. The results are…something. 😲 pic.twitter.com/u0OuYkCPK3
— Tony Ho Tran (@TonyHoWasHere) February 27, 2021
Oddly, the creators of the tool have noted the pong of the ill wind they’ve channelled, noting that “…some people love the Deep Nostalgia feature and consider it magical…while others find it creepy and dislike it. Indeed, the results can be controversial and it’s hard to stay indifferent to this technology,” MyHeritage states on the Deep Nostalgia web page.
However, Deep Nostalgia is merely the tip of a very demonic iceberg, as artificial intelligence undoing death is commonplace, with Hollywood leading the way in the whole-overcoming-death-for-profit thing.
Interestingly, the long-departed James Dean is headlining a legal battle, as the image rights for old celebrities expire, filmmakers are attempting to secure their leading man…despite dying in 1955.
As Morgan Leigh Davies wrote for The Big Smoke, “The recent and deeply unsettling development of de-ageing actors—or even conjuring them from the dead—most thoroughly epitomises this frustrating trend. De-aged actors have featured in several recent blockbusters, including Captain America: Civil War and Blade Runner 2049. But no movie received as much attention as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which featured a younger version of Carrie Fisher reprising her role as Princess Leia, as well as the digital ghost of Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, reprising his as Grand Moff Tarkin. (The latter character was actually played on the set and voiced by actor Guy Henry.) Neither of these characters convincingly resembled a human being; instead, they were unsettling digital simulacra who distracted from the story Rogue One was trying to tell.”
Maybe just leave the dead and dying where they are, guys.