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Help This Computer Program Draw the World’s Freakiest Felines

This is what happens when you tell an AI bot that everything is cats.

For years, computers have provided humans with an endless supply of depictions of cats—cat pictures, cat gifs, cat videos, cat memes. If you really think about it, it’s only fair that they should get a shot at creating them themselves. Enter edges2cats, a program that takes your squiggles and turns ‘em into cats. Or, at least, tries:

Edges2cats is the brainkitten of programmer Christopher Hesse, who released it a few days ago, along with similar programs “edges2shoes” and “edges2handbags.” (Those two are slightly less disturbing.) All of them use what is called “image-to-image translation,” in which an AI is trained to transform a simple image—like lines and circles—into a more complicated one, with colors and textures.

This is fairly similar to Google’s infamous image recognition network, which is learning to identify everyday objects by looking at tons and tons of labeled pictures. Instead of enjoying exposure to a lot of different images, though, edges2cats has only ever seen Shutterstock photos of cats. Because of that, it thinks everything is meant to be a cat—even a random scribble—and generously helps it along.

Despite edges2cats’s obvious utility, it is not for everything. When Atlas Obscura tried to transform our logo, it didn’t go so hot:

Welcome to Catlas Obscura!
Welcome to Catlas Obscura!

If you want to try your luck, you can find this nightmare cat generator here: https://affinelayer.com/pixsrv/. Have fun, and be careful.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to [email protected].