Artificial selection

How can a computer create art? CNY teenager uses artificial intelligence to create beautiful, haunting and surreal images.

Artificial intelligence: “Terrifying, alien, relatable in a strange, captivating and strange sense.This is how a 16-year-old describes the complex world in which he works.

Rio Harper is a grade 11 student. Rio has built an AI program that creates digital art. Rio won over $ 100,000. Rio plans to go to college. Rio is worried about the future.

In the sleepy little village of Cazenovia, Rio’s house is constantly buzzing with noise and energy. Among the loud calls for “dinner!” And the incessant barking of her two dogs, Rio lives with her parents, younger sister and a foreign student from Pakistan. However, Rio is able to retreat to a quieter space: her carefully organized upstairs bedroom.

Among the bed, closet and side table is a computer that radiates a rainbow of neon colors, straight out of a Blade Runner movie, and a curved screen that would feel at home on the deck. of a fictional spaceship. This is where Rio can work on his sci-fi passion project.

Rio is a deep-spoken but soft-spoken teenager with a deep passion for technology. Growing up, Rio was often compared to a young Bill Gates or Elon Musk: a bit socially awkward but kind, caring, and passionately passionate about exploring any new opportunities he could find.

We never really had to push it. He’s just who he is and we do our best to make sure he has room to be himself,Rio’s father Ken Harper said.He’s like the crazy cyberpunk artist in his bedroom concocting juicy new visuals.

At 10, Rio built a computer for a college student, and at 14, Rio created a Twitter bot that created tweets based on previous tweets from its followers. When Rio was 15, he found a new challenge: how can he make art for his art class when the best he could draw were stick figures?

Some of Rio Harper’s AI images look like real-life scenes

Rio goes to Cazenovia High School, and in the early months of 2020, her school closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After her school went live, Rio found herself with enough time but little motivation to continue completing schoolwork that she often felt was arbitrary. So, in light of the feeling that he was not applying enough, he decided to indulge in a hobby; he decided to take AI.

Rio was not interested in the classic “serious statisticsOn the AI ​​side as he put it, so he decided to explore how he could use his new hobby to produce art for school.

By AI I mean I make creative applications for artificial intelligence and I explore the limits of what the differences [are] between traditional art, such as man creates it, and artificial intelligence,“Rio said.”So, I’m not at the point yet where I can necessarily build an AI from scratch. Very rare, especially without Stanford and Nvidia and other large international companies [that] usually create this stuff.

This did not deter Rio, however. Online he was able to find a preexisting AI program, and through much trial and error, he was able to adapt it so that it was able to compile datasets – or any collection of over 2,000 images. , videos, written work, etc. – and make it a model. These templates are a single line of code that serves as both a template for future artistic designs and a printer capable of producing finished works of art.

As Rio began to produce works of art, he also began to work with a classmate from school. The classmate, like Rio, had a passion for technology. However, instead of knowing the world of AI, the classmate knew the world of non-fungible tokens or NFTs.

An NFT is like a digital baseball card that you can trade in or keep any digital artwork from. Or in my case, create your own,“Rio said.

By the end of 2021, Rio had produced over 15,000 unique images and, along with his classmate, had sold over 400 hand-selected pieces for a total of over $ 100,000.

Unlike many of his age who would use the money to buy a luxury car or the latest electronics, Rio decided to invest in his future. He chose to spend only a small amount on parts and computer hardware, which will allow him to do increasingly complex work, but he saved the majority of it.

I want to save for college because we all know tuition is pretty expensive right now,“Rio said.

Rio has high goals and is hoping to go to Cornell University for machine learning. He hopes to someday give back and contribute to the companies that made his adaptive AI possible, and he hopes Cornell’s connections will allow him to do just that.

But Rio’s thoughts on AI go far beyond a simple potential career path.

AI is going to be a massive advance in human technology as a whole. And I think it’s important to be careful with the ethics behind what you create. And sometimes you have to think about what you’re doing and if that might clash with good moral standards because I feel like people can get ahead of themselves.

Dark character Edit.jpg

This dark figure was a creation of computer code manipulated through an AI platform.

Rio doesn’t know what the future of AI holds, and while it turns him on, he jokingly offers one final warning.

We don’t want to go the Terminator way, you know. So stay up to date, I would recommend and see what happens. It’s an interesting area, and even if you don’t know the technical details of it, it’s fascinating to see the speed at which things are created.