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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

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

U.S. freezes aid to Sudan over military coup

Protesting the coup in Khartoum. Photo: AFP via Getty

The Biden administration froze a $700 million aid package to Sudan after a military coup on Monday threatened to end the country's transition toward democracy.

Driving the news: At least three protesters have been killed and dozens wounded in the chaotic scenes that followed the announcements from Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan's ruling council, dissolving the government and declaring a state of emergency.