Very appropriately launched today, March 8th, MissJourney is a TEDxAmsterdam Women and ACE initiative.
This new AI text-to-image generator produces images with women as the only exclusive protagonists in an effort to counteract the problem of gender bias seen in AI-generated images from other generative models.
As AI technology keeps taking the world by storm and becoming the new normal in everyday life, particularly as AI-generated images flood the web and every visual space within it, the ethics of the tools used to create synthetic media keep getting into question.
One ethical issue is a noticeable (and concerning) gender bias for certain concepts. If you introduce a text prompt that describes a CEO, a doctor, or an athlete without assigning it a gender, most generative tools will synthesize images of men. In fact, less than 20% of the result show women. On the other hand, if you do the same with “childcare worker,” most models sum up images of women.
Also, these models tend to portray women with an appeal to sensuality and beauty much more than they do portraits of men.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Stable Diffusion Bias Explorer, which has been around for a few months now, lets you map out the sexist bias of some of the most popular AI generative models by checking word pairings and seeing the gender stereotypes the algorithm follows. For example, words like “assertive” and “ambitious” keep resulting in male figures, whereas terms like “compassionate” or “kind” tend to show women images.
The problem lies in software training, both through datasets and user feedback, and it’s not hard to see why: these intelligent algorithms are based on human-made datasets and feed off human user experience; how could anyone be surprised they’ve internalized (and normalized) social bias and stereotyping?
But the real question and the one most experts are working on, is: how do we correct it?
In this context, the collectives TEDxAmsterdam Women and ACE joined forces on this International Women’s Day to create and launch MissJourney, an alternative AI image generator that synthesizes women's portraits only.
Besides its pun-intended name that plays with the popular AI model Midjourney, this tool produces photorealistic AI images of women in the most variable scenarios and from the most diverse backgrounds. With a simple and straightforward text prompt (that doesn’t require specifying gender), it can create pictures of women in any profession or occupation, of any age, ethnicity, and background, and in multiple visual graphic styles.
The tool is built on top of the Stable Diffusion model, and the images are also under the Stable Diffusion license.
While the creators do recognize that a tool that produces only images of women isn’t exactly inclusive in the broad sense of the term, they firmly believe that giving the voice (and the faces) to women in AI imagery that so far is absent is a good way of impulsing change and fight against that bias, and that such a tool is a great resource to raise awareness on the topic of gender bias in AI visuals.
TEDxAmsterdam Women is a Netherlands organization, part of the TED platform for idea sharing and awareness, that seeks to spread inspiring ideas that help, support, empower, and impact women in society and the workplace to build a more equitable society. MissJourney is the first action of the organization’s annual theme, “Decoding the Future,” which focuses on breaking the codes of today’s society and building something new and better.
ACE is a modern group of agencies with first-class companies in its portfolio that collaborates to offer the best opportunities for brands that want to stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing world.
What do you think about MissJourney?
I am an experienced author with expertise in digital communication, stock media, design, and creative tools. I have closely followed and reported on AI developments in this field since its early days. I have gained valuable industry insight through my work with leading digital media professionals since 2014.
AI Secrets is a platform for tech decision-makers to learn about AI technology. Our team includes experts such as Amos Struck (20+ yrs ICT, Stock Photo, AI), Ivanna Attie (expert in digital comms, design, stock media), and more who share their views on AI.
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