Not a challenge? Let’s try this one. Hint: Kitty’s shy:
This cat is well hidden, but she’s like a deer in headlights:
This cute cat is getting ready for an ambush:
Last but definitely not least, if you enjoy a challenge (or just feel like driving yourself crazy), I assure you there is a cat in this photo. Hint: Kitty’s in plain sight, not half-buried in the junk. Good luck!
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about people dressing their cats up in elaborate outfits for Instagram, and how it’s exploitive of the kitties. At other random times I’ve opined that most cats want nothing to do with clothes or accessories, and it’s cruel to treat them like dolls and play dress up with them.
My opinion on the subject hasn’t changed, but now I’m a hypocrite.
While my family was exchanging Christmas gifts, I was handed a small present while my brother and his wife explained that the gift was from my 8-year-old niece, who had found it and picked it out herself.
I opened it, revealing a pair of tiny “cat sunglasses,” with the packaging in Russian and a photo of a cat rocking the shades. (My brother works for the State Department and has been living in a former Soviet bloc country for the past year and a half. It’s a downgrade from Tokyo, but hey, you can’t get amazing assignments every time.)
“They’re for Buddy,” my niece said, beaming.
At the time I was thinking there’s no way in hell Bud would wear them, and I wasn’t going to try…but I knew my niece would expect to see a photo of him rocking the shades.
And so, after a bit of negotiation and the promise of tasty treats as a reward, Buddy agreed to wear the glasses just long enough for me to snap a few photos. I didn’t press my luck.
Here’s the glorious result:
Credit to the little guy for posing and being a good sport. I wouldn’t have forced him to wear the glasses if he freaked out, and he didn’t seem to mind. He was curious and interested in biting the glasses more than anything.
Bud was rewarded handsomely in moist chicken cat treats and gobbled them down happily. A short while later he climbed up onto me, laid his head on my chest and started purring, so I’m as sure as I can be that he wasn’t traumatized by his brief fashion show.
So there you have it. I’m a hypocrite.
As for my niece, she loved the photo. Her and her younger sister are very fond of Buddy, and he’s started to warm to them as well, even if he remains cautious and well aware that they are young humans who haven’t totally developed fine motor control.
Besides, they have incentive to be extra nice to Bud. LOL Dolls are all the rage among young kids now, and I’ve told my nieces that Buddy’s got a huge collection of them, as well as a vast assortment of Pokemon. If they’re good to Buddy, he just might let them play with his toys…
After a few days of patiently waiting, we finally have a winner in our unofficial contest from earlier this week.
Reader Romulo Pietrangeli got it right: None of the cats pictured in our April 13 post are real felines.
All nine images were created by the machine learning algorithm that powers the site This Cat Does Not Exist, a riff on the original This Person Does Not Exist, a site that uses generative adversarial networks (GANS) to create stunningly realistic images of people on the fly.
(Above: All six images above are computer-generated using the same technology behind ThisCatDoesNotExist.)
“I’m basically at the point in my life where I’m going to concede that super-intelligence will be real and I need to devote my remaining life to [it],” Wang said. “The reaction speaks to how much people are in the dark about A.I. and its potential.”
Because the internet is ruled by cats, it was only a matter of time before a feline-generating version of the human-creating algorithm was brought online.
(Above: More artificially-generated cats. Artefacts in the images can sometimes give away the fact that they’re fake, such as the third image in the second row, where part of the cat’s fur is transparent.)
A CNN article from 2019 explains how GAN technology works:
In order to generate such images, StyleGAN makes use of a machine-learning method known as a GAN, or generative adversarial network. GANs consist of two neural networks — which are algorithms modeled on the neurons in a brain — facing off against each other to produce real-looking images of everything from human faces to impressionist paintings. One of the neural networks generates images (of, say, a woman’s face), while the other tries to determine whether that image is a fake or a real face.
Wang, who said his software “dreams up a new face every two seconds,” told CNN he hoped his creations would spark conversation and get people to think critically about what they see in front of them. It looks like he’s achieved his goal.
Christopher Schmidt, a Google engineer who used the same technology to create fake home and rental interiors, agreed.
“Maybe we should all just think an extra couple of seconds before assuming something is real,” Schmidt told CNN.
Pietrangeli, for his part, says he can tell the difference: “All of the animal images,” he wrote, “lacked ‘aura.'”
There’s a new tool that uses algorithmic artificial intelligence to create random images of cats, and the results are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
Can you tell which cats are real and which ones are computer-generated? (Kindly share your answers in the comments, numbering them from left to right. The person with the best score gets bragging rights!)
We’ll follow up with the answers after everyone’s had a day to make their guesses or informed choices, as it were.
The algorithm was created by a process called machine learning, which you’ve probably heard at some point even if you haven’t sought out information about artificial intelligence.
In simple terms, machine learning means the creators fed massive amounts of data — millions of photos of cats — to the software algorithm. The algorithm analyzes the data and learns how patterns in the data create accurate images of felines.
Crucially, the algorithm never learns what a cat actually is. It doesn’t know a cat is an animal in the real world. It doesn’t know what the real world is, and it doesn’t know what animals are. All it knows is that data, organized a certain way, produces images that look like the photos it’s been fed.
That’s a key difference because, while we have made huge strides with machine learning, that’s not the kind of artificial intelligence the Elon Musks of the world freak out about when they smoke pot and watch The Matrix. We’ll never have to worry about our cat-generating algorithms rising up and eliminating humanity. 🙂
Artificial general intelligence — or AGI — is the potentially dangerous form of AI, but that’s a whole other piece of business: It involves recreating consciousness and the mind on a machine substrate.
We can’t even define consciousness and we know shockingly little about how the brain works, so that’s not happening any time soon. And even if we could it off, there’s a growing body of evidence supporting the concept of embodied cognition. That’s the idea that the mind cannot be separate from the brain, and the brain cannot be separate from the body, as well as a recognition that everything from pain signals to gut flora has an effect on our cognitive routines.
The bottom line: “AI” can get pretty good at making pictures of cats, but it’s not taking over the world any time soon.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.