I asked an AI to dream the solar system as food
As soon as I saw these new AI imaging tools, like DALL-E, I wanted to see how well they would work for generating spatial and astronomical images. I’m still on the waiting list for DALL-E 2 so I don’t have any comments there, but I signed up for Midjourney AI, played with the free account, then I am registered for a fully paid account, so that I can test its capabilities.
How does it work ? It’s good, I guess. I’m still learning how to create prompts for the best results, but the biggest problem is that they’re unscientific. If I need an image of the Space Launch System, it must be the actual Space Launch System and not some sort of art deco version of a rocket that looks like it was designed in the 1950s. It’s beautiful, but I can’t use it.
I was able to generate an image of a meteorite resting on the ocean floor for a recent story, and tried some additional illustrations. This could work for stories with abstract concepts where there is no existing image that we could use.
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Alright, alright, but what about images that aren’t scientific? Funny pictures. We speak now. I’m using AI to generate images for an Ars Magica game I’m playing with my son and his friends.
I asked the AI Midjourney to imagine the solar system but in the form of food. In each case, I gave the AI the food planet prompt. Thus, “the planet Jupiter made of a sandwich” or “the planet Neptune made of a bowl of berries”. You can see the results below.
It was tricky, and it took many attempts to find circular foods that might also look a bit like Mercury. I’ve tried pizzas and soups, but this one finally got the Mercury blue metallic sheen seen from MESSENGER.
In our telescopes, Venus is a featureless yellowish ball, which looked like some kind of butternut squash soup to me. I tried a few variations, and nothing clicked, but I think that’s more because of how boring Venus looks than the ideas the AI came up with. I chose something with more dramatic swirls in the clouds, even if it’s a little less scientifically accurate.
Bubble. It’s not cake, and it’s not Mars. But it’s a cake reminiscent of Mars. I loved this one and how tasty it looks.
Another great AI performance, in my opinion. It’s clearly a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, but the noodles are arranged in a circular pattern that evokes the planet Saturn.
This one looks delicious. Blueberry ice cream with a filling of blueberries. I can only imagine how it tastes. The presentation is fantastic. I like how the AI has signed the bottom left corner. Some sort of clue to his inspiration?
This is just a fraction of a much longer thread on Twitter where I was taking requests for images. If you have any ideas, just post a comment in the thread, and I’ll see what the AI and I can cook up.
A few people pointed me to a certain hoax chorizo version of Alpha Centauri captured by James Webb, and I promise it was complete coincidence that Etienne and I both had astronomical food in our brains.
You’ll likely see more AI images here on Universe Today, but I promise we’ll clearly disclose the source as an artist’s illustration by an AI in the image caption. I know there’s a big discussion to be had about artists’ illustrations versus actual photographs, versus drawings, versus man-made art, versus the art of artificial intelligence.
For now, I think the best place to start is stupidity.
Enjoy your meal.