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Image: IBM Research

Accompanying an NYT series on artificial intelligence today is a piece of art — seen above — that’s very unlike the newspaper's usual imagery: It represents AI, and it’s drawn by AI.

Why it matters: Artists are using increasingly powerful machine-learning algorithms to help produce fiction, film, and visual art. Incapable of creativity on their own, they can be programmed to act as a formidable artistic tool.

Developed by IBM Research, the algorithms that created this image were divided into three parts that together approximated a creative process.

  • First, the system had to pick what to draw. It read about 3,000 NYT articles about AI and extracted the 30 most salient concepts, like robot, self-driving, and computing. It went on to unearth the 10 that were most representative, from which one — a human and robot shaking hands — was chosen.
  • To build its own version, a generative adversarial network, or GAN, was trained on more than 1,000 existing images to create new ones.
  • To match the newspaper’s style, a final step sampled past NYT imagery and applied the design to the AI-generated image.

Importantly, every step depended on human-generated content for training data.

  • The algorithms synthesized thousands of artworks created previously by humans to make something novel.
  • This means AI can help creative people make new things — but it can’t make something unique on its own, said John Smith, a fellow at IBM Research who worked on the project:

"Creativity itself, which is the leap of thought or imagination to create something completely new, different and valuable is still an essentially human ability."

Go deeper: AI-generated art is selling for thousands of dollars

Go deeper

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.