The Download: Google’s AI cuteness overload, and America’s fight for gun control

Another month, another flood of weird, wonderful and cute images generated by an artificial intelligence. In April, OpenAI showed off its new picture-making neural network, DALL-E 2, which could produce remarkable high-res images of almost anything it was asked to.

Now, just a few weeks later, Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. And it performs even better than DALL-E 2: it scores higher on a standard measure for rating the quality of computer-generated images and the pictures it produced were preferred by a group of human judges.

But like OpenAI did with DALL-E, Google is going all in on cuteness. Both firms promote their tools with a series of pictures filled with anthropomorphic animals doing adorable things: a fuzzy panda dressed as a chef making dough, a corgi sitting in a house made of sushi, a teddy bear swimming the 400m butterfly at the Olympics — and it goes on.

This cuteness hides a darker side to these tools, one that the public doesn’t get to see because it would reveal the ugly truth about how they are created. Read the full story — and see more pictures created by Imagen — here.

—Will Douglas Heaven

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun / important / scary / fascinating stories about technology.

1 The Uvalde school shooting is strengthening urgent calls for gun control
Lawmakers are pushing for an end to America’s gun violence epidemic. (The Guardian)
+ President Biden asks when America is going to stand up to the gun lobby. (Politico)
+ Texas has some of the most lenient gun laws in the country. (NYT)

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