OpenAI Expands DALL-E 2 Functionality with Facial Uploads

OpenAI has begun allowing users of its DALL-E 2 image-generating system to work with facial image uploads. The program previously allowed only computer-generated faces in an effort to prevent deepfakes and misuse, but OpenAI says improvements to its safety system succeeded in “minimizing the potential of harm” from things like explicit, political or violent content. OpenAI will continue to prohibit use of unauthorized photos and will seek to protect right of publicity, though it remains to be seen how effective that will be. In the past, customers have complained the company was overzealous in its policing.

TechCrunch reports that OpenAI wrote in an email to customers that “Many of you have told us that you miss using DALL-E to dream up outfits and hairstyles on yourselves and edit the backgrounds of family photos. A reconstructive surgeon told us that he’d been using DALL-E to help his patients visualize results. And filmmakers have told us that they want to be able to edit images of scenes with people to help speed up their creative processes.”

Deepfakes come in many varieties, and “accounting for every emerging form of abuse will be a never-ending battle, in some cases with very high stakes,” writes TechCrunch, noting that “no doubt, OpenAI — which has the backing of Microsoft and notable VC firms including Khosla Ventures — is eager to avoid the controversy associated with Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion, an image-generating system that’s available in an open source format without any restrictions.”

The new feature lets users edit images in various ways. “They can upload a photograph of someone and generate variations of the picture, for example, or they can edit specific features, like changing someone’s clothing or hair,” says The Verge, noting that that the expanded functionality “will no doubt be useful to many users in creative industries, from photographers to filmmakers.”

This summer, OpenAI expanded its DALL-E 2 beta to more than a million users, raising legal issues.

Last month, DALL-E 2 introduced native “outpainting,” which lets the system expand the borders of a picture by augmenting peripheral content. “Users have been playing with the feature to see what lies outside the frame of famous images,” writes The Verge, positing that it points to the future of DALL-E 2’s marketing “by making usability a key pitch to customers.”