From scarily realistic deepfakes to attention-sucking algorithms, there's no shortage of talk about the nefarious potential of AI. But every now and again something comes along to show us just how use useful and important machine learning can be. Something that immediately makes you wonder how you ever lived without it. Something like opera singing blobs.
Google has revealed its latest machine learning experiment, Blob Opera, and the internet is already going wild for the fun and festive distraction. By dragging one of four blobs up or down, you can control the pitch of their singing – and with all four blobs automatically harmonising, it's hard to create something that doesn't sound beautiful. (Check out our best web design tools if you fancy creating your own weird and wonderful website.)
Google explains (opens in new tab) that interactive designer and developer David Li created the tool by recording four opera singers for over 16 hours. You don't hear their actual voices in the Blob Opera experiment, but rather the Google AI model's "understanding of what opera singing sounds like, based on what it learnt from them".
As well as dragging the blobs up and down to control pitch, you can change the vowel sound by dragging them forwards and backwards. And for the ultimate blast of festive cheer, the Christmas mode toggle adds falling snow and decks the blobs in Santa hats. You can listen to our own Christmas concerto (God Rest Ye Merry Blobs? In the Blob Mindwinter?) here (opens in new tab).
Google's Blob Opera (opens in new tab) has done down a storm online, with many taking to Twitter to declare that the internet has finally peaked. While we wouldn't go that far (there are plenty of amazing website layouts to be found online), there's no denying that the blobs are a delightful distraction – and just the tonic after the last few months.
This is it. The Blob Opera Google Experiment is where the technology has peaked. All the years of computer development led to this. https://t.co/cvte7FRY2I. pic.twitter.com/JhqCZouJZbDecember 15, 2020
This is bonkers and brilliant. Do NOT open this if you need to kip😂😂#blobopera https://t.co/3MlQHZur8bDecember 15, 2020
Best Google creation since gmail https://t.co/q3i3p508B0December 15, 2020
The internet's peaked. We can all quit our jobs now. No one will ever manage to make a better thing on the web.https://t.co/0VIvhDIkFbDecember 15, 2020
In a year in which Google has faced criticism for its overly simplistic and uniform new logos, it's refreshing to see something so unapologetically fun and experimental from the company. And if you fancy checking out some slightly creepier uses of AI, here are 10 deepfake examples that terrified and amused the internet.