What’s The Deal With The AI Self Portraits Sweeping Social Media?

It seems like you can’t open Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at the moment without being swamped with colourful, illustration-style portraits of your friends.

Yup, art apps are seriously having a moment right now, and there’s one in particular that’s got everyone talking: Lensa AI.

The app uses artificial intelligence technology (AI) to create avatars based on people’s selfies.

It comes with a tonne of tools that users can use to retouch their selfies and the finished products genuinely look as though a commissioned artist has created the image.

The Lensa AI app itself isn’t new (it’s been about since 2018) but its ‘Magic Avatar’ feature (these whimsical illustrations) debuted on November 21.

The app takes some images from you before generating 50 self-portrait style images – it can make you look like everything from a fairy or scientist to a full blown superhero.

Lensa AI is free to download but it charges £3.49 for 50 images or a whopping £32.99 a year for full access to the majority of its filters.

The company isn’t the only one making money from AI avatars at the moment, though it is one of the more popular.

But if you’ve been feeling like this is all a bit boomer mum on Facebook and that’s something a bit off – you’re not alone.

Twitter’s art community have been pointing out the problems with the app and others like it, claiming that cheap AI art seeks to replace real-life artists and their work.

“AI art wouldn’t be able to function without us artists making all the work to begin with. It’s just a bunch of programmers freeloading off of us,” wrote Twitter user @datcravat.

“Cognitive dissonance must be very sustainable when you can just blame the AI instead of your own selfish choices while building it.”

Another added: “Artists dislike AI art because the programs are ‘trained’ unethically using databases of art belonging to artists who have not given their consent. This is not about gatekeeping. This is about theft.”

It’s also crucial to remember that by using the app, you are also allowing Lensa to use your images however they wish, with the terms and conditions reading.

HuffPost UK has contacted Lensa AI regarding these points and will update this article if we receive a response.

Whether you choose to download the app or not – we advise having a good look into what you’re paying money for and taking a read of the terms and conditions before hitting the download button.

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