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AI image generator births the horrific 'first cryptid of the latent space'


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As the AI image generation trend continues unabated, so too grows the lore. It appears there are stranger forces at work here than we first anticipated as, in the wake of this new creative wave, a cryptid is born.

She is known only as Loab.

Created accidentally through a series of negatively weighted prompts, Loab's macabre facade has persisted across countless image iterations, even when the AI is asked to move as far away from the subject matter as possible.

Just so we're all on the same page, a negatively weighted image prompt is that which "instead of creating an image of the text prompt, the AI tries to make the image look as different from the prompt as possible," Supercomposite explains. Supercomposite is the AI image generation artist responsible for this cryptid's existence, and will henceforth undoubtedly become known as the mother of Loab, which I'm sure she's delighted about.

And in case you're not familiar with the concept of cryptids, these are entities such as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster which are not generally recognised by science, but whose image is recognised through multiple supposed sightings.

Loab is supposedly the "first cryptid of the latent space," though there's some (albeit insubstantial) debate surrounding those claims.

Feeding the AI the prompt "Brando::-1" was how it all began, says Supercomosite. The logo for an imaginary company arose, the contained text of which she fed back to the AI. "I typed 'DIGITA PNTICS skyline logo::-1' as a prompt. I received these off-putting images, all of the same devastated-looking older woman with defined triangles of rosacea(?) on her cheeks."

🧵: I discovered this woman, who I call Loab, in April. The AI reproduced her more easily than most celebrities. Her presence is persistent, and she haunts every image she touches. CW: Take a seat. This is a true horror story, and veers sharply macabre. pic.twitter.com/gmUlf6mZtkSeptember 6, 2022

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And while many AI artists would have stopped there, content with dipping their toes into the unknown, Supercomposite isn't one to let sleeping dogs lie. She is known for pushing whatever strangeness presents itself on her AI pilgrimages, and the algorithms always deliver tenfold.

She says that after combining an image created by a friend of a "hyper compressed glass tunnel surrounded by angels [...] in the style of Wes Anderson," using Loab as an image prompt, her face persisted "through some kind of emergent statistical accident."

And so it went on from there, with Loab's face continuing to turn up time after time. In speaking to Supercomposite about Loab, she notes that "most celebrities get more distorted after being put through an image prompt. Loab pretty much stays the same even after several generations of feeding the results back into the AI."

"The AI reproduced her more easily than most celebrities. Her presence is persistent, and she haunts every image she touches," the Twitter thread reads.

Essentially, where other faces would mould into something new, Loab manages to stay consistently recognisable even as her face is cross-pollinated with other images. She even pops up later down the line after disappearing completely, like the AI just can't let go of her.

"After she disappeared from the image breeding lineage, she would sometimes reappear, later down the line, out of nowhere."

Loab in one of her later appearances, after having been lost.

(Image credit: Supercomposite)

"Since Loab was discovered using negative prompt weights, her gestalt is made from a collection of traits that are equally far away from something," one Tweet explains. "But her combined traits are still a cohesive concept for the AI, and almost all descendent images contain a recognizable Loab."

"The AI can latch onto the idea of Loab so well that she can persist through generations of this type of crossbreeding, without using the original image."

Supercomposite, although being much more well versed in the inner workings of AI than I, admits that she doesn't fully understand what's going on here.

"I haven't experimented extensively with it but it seems like this pattern holds for multiple AIs, perhaps due to them all using CLIP in one way or the other. Or maybe it's a quirk of the RAION dataset. I'm not sure exactly why, even if I generally understand in principle how! Neural networks are a black box as they say."

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She has asked me to keep the name of the AI secret as many of the images generated of Loab contain excessive gore verging on snuff, and I'm sure whatever company is involved doesn't fancy that kind attention.

As the founder of AI image generating discord bot Midjourney said in an interview with me a few weeks ago, "Obviously, it doesn't matter if there's a little bit of gore. But the problem is that you have 10,000 people who want to do gore all day. Then we produce more gore content in one month than all of human visual history. I don't know if we need that."

So whichever AI it is that has this strange obsession with the cryptid Loab, we can only wait to see what other dark and wonderful anomalies will rear their heads as the AI image generation trend continues to snowball.

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