Happy Puppies and Silly Geese: Pushing the Limits of A.I. Absurdity

What is the happiest dog you can imagine? Is it beaming with joy on a celestial plane or frolicking in a field of psychedelic flora?

If those images are hard to conjure, have no fear, or perhaps a healthy dose of it: Artificial intelligence can vivify even the most absurd scenarios in vibrant color, and on social media, some are seeing how far it can be pushed.

Though A.I.-generated images can often unsettle with their uncanny realism — think the pope in a Balenciaga puffer jacket — many are finding joy in a new form of low-stakes image tinkering. This fall, ChatGPT released an update that allowed people to enter prompts for more detailed images than before, and it wasn’t long before some began to push the chatbot to its limits.

In November, Garrett Scott McCurrach, the chief executive of Pipedream Labs, a robotics company, posted a digital image of a goose on social media with a proposition: “For every 10 likes this gets, I will ask ChatGPT to make this goose a little sillier.” As the post was liked tens of thousands of times, the goose went through a few growing pains.

The first update was fairly modest, giving the goose a colorful birthday hat and a broad smile befitting a Disney character. By the sixth prompt, however, it had grown a second pair of eyeballs, donned roller skates and been bathed in a collage of wavy light, brass instruments and ringed planets.

Previous versions of A.I. chatbots placed the onus on users to give detailed artistic directions. Mr. McCurrach, who uses A.I. in his work, said that using the latest iteration of ChatGPT was like “talking to someone else with the paintbrush.”


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