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  • Writer's pictureDonovan Bergin

Meet the Cast (Part 1)

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

As I thought of different ways to introduce the characters to my first novel, I stumbled upon bing.com/create. It’s a free tool that’s part of Microsoft’s recent AI offerings that allows you to generate AI art based on prompts that you type in.


DISCLAIMER:

I know the use of AI tools for art can be controversial, and, as an artist myself, I believe wholeheartedly that we must continue to support and invest in authentic art created by real humans. However, I felt this would be a potentially hilarious way to introduce some of my characters using a medium that closely parallels some of the themes of my story, whose main character is an AI.


Moving on, what I found most surprising throughout this experiment was the biases the AI created based on some of my character prompts. It shouldn’t have surprised me. AI platforms are trained on current datasets, and their output mirrors their input. As a society, we have a lot of biases that come through in art, and so it makes sense that a tool trained on our art would share those biases. I think seeing those biases crafted in real-time was the kicker. It made me think and question how I create art. What biases (positive or negative) do I include?


Existential crisis aside, I had a blast using Bing’s new image creator. It made some faithful renderings, some hilarious images, and prompted me to think more deeply the world we shape with and through our art.


Over the next few posts, I’ll introduce the cast of non-spoiler characters with a bit of info on the character, the prompt I used to generate the image, and the image Bing created for me.


And now, this week’s character “sketch” is…


Sarah


Sarah’s a character near and dear to my heart. What am I saying? All my characters are. She’s smart, thoughtful, and loyal to a fault. Some might call her overly optimistic, but sometimes it’s just easier to look on the bright side than to face your own growing fears and anxieties, right? Of course it is!


For Sarah’s prompt, I grabbed an image from my Pinterest board and gave Bing a prompt that included the actress from the photo, with a few additional descriptions.


Prompt:

alba flores with wavy hair and a nasa tshirt, watercolor


Result:


Sarah's Profile Picture (created by Bing)


Verdict: 7 / 10


I don’t think Bing quite translates actor / actress names into like images. I mean, maybe it does for Sean Connery, I certainly didn’t try anyone else to test my hypothesis. Given the newness of the tech, I’m fairly pleased with the results. The rendering doesn’t quite look like Sarah does in my mind, but I don’t think I gave Bing much to go on.


Oh, and that fake NASA shirt? Chef’s kiss, amirite?


If you'd like to see more, head on over to Part 2 of the series and meet Robert!

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