Johan Dirksen in a cool biker jacket, Willem-Alexander in trendy jeans, and Marc-Marie Huijbregts with short hair like he just stepped out of a movie fat he escaped. The internet is fascinated by a new app that takes hyper-realistic school photos of famous and unknown people, with a healthy dose of humour, of course. The results have been amazing, and according to experts, it’s just the beginning. “The next step is to simulate our lives in videos.”
All you have to do is open Instagram or TikTok and you will see it. That thousandth ’90s version of your colleague or family member. Did all these people secretly take a Photoshop course? No: AI Yearbook is the name, and it’s a new feature for the popular photo app Epik. With just a few clicks, you can travel back in time decades. It became a huge hit within just a few weeks. “This is because it presents an alternative version of yourself in a reliable way,” explains media psychologist Misha Koster. “People see those crazy pictures and think: ‘I want that too.’ It’s typical herd behavior, and he’s an example of that Fear of missing out (FOMO).”
The success of AI Yearbook is also exemplary. The word “school photo” makes many people’s hair stand up. What a terrible haircut at the time, or just a few too many pimples or crooked teeth. Epik plays on this shame by placing heavy emphasis on well-known stereotypes. Think about the tough soccer player that all the girls love, or the rocker with long hair who sets the trend every year, or that nerdy student who always gets good grades. The alternative versions that Yearbook offers you are countless.
Text continues below this tweet
How it works?
The design is very simple. You send eight to twelve photos of yourself, pay around €7 and let the AI do its thing. Then you can get dozens of photos that look exactly like the ’90s school photo, including that iconic cloud background. “It’s nostalgic and stimulates our curiosity, which is a very powerful behavioral motivator,” Koster says. The fact that the job costs a lot of money – €7 per round – doesn’t seem to stop people. “If others are willing to pay for it, it will be good and I can’t be left behind. It’s a well-known trend in the world of social media.
Anyone who thinks a nerd’s version of Johan Dirksen is the most our technology can offer is wrong. This is just the beginning, says Internet expert Dave Masland. “The next step in these AI applications might be to not only simulate yearbook photos, but also video clips where you see how someone changes over the years,” he says. “Using video gives us the opportunity to transform ourselves or others into a complete digital experience. Think of having a conversation with your grandparents or seeing what your parents were like at school. Soon everyone will be able to look at a future version of themselves.
With the advent of augmented reality and virtual reality, these apps may in the future provide a complete virtual experience, allowing you to walk through different periods of your life. “If you combine these techniques,… metaverse “We are getting closer and closer, where we can also ‘meet’ our future selves, our children, our famous characters or recreate the real world,” predicts Masland.
“Soon everything will be fake”
In addition to privacy, mental health also plays a role. Constantly wanting ideal or modified versions of ourselves can damage our self-image. Koster doesn’t really believe that. “People don’t do it for recognition, it’s just entertainment. If you post a picture of your new hairstyle on social media and don’t get any responses, it could have an impact on your mental health. But this? No, this is just entertainment.”
According to Koster, it remains important to remain vigilant about abuse. “These are innocent images at the moment, but they could become dangerous if we put too much trust in artificial intelligence. There is a risk that soon we will not be able to distinguish between what is fake and what is real. This could cause a crisis of confidence,” Masland confirms. “We are moving towards a time when everything can be fake.”
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and never miss a thing from the stars.
“Unable to type with boxing gloves on. Freelance organizer. Avid analyst. Friendly troublemaker. Bacon junkie.”