These AI-generated camera mashups look so real you might wish they actually were

These out-of-this-world camera designs demonstrate how humans and AI can work together for jobs.

Humans have odd and sometimes conflicting attitudes towards AI. On the one hand, we are always amazed at how far the technology has come, especially when mimicking human intelligence to some level. On the other hand, we also seem to be afraid of these disembodied digital brains, especially considering how far they’ve come in doing some of the more sophisticated things we humans do. Next to homicidal robots, the most common joke about AI is about how it will soon take the jobs of even creative folk like writers and artists. At first brush, these AI-generated camera designs seem to confirm those fears, but they actually also prove how humans can benefit from the work of these neural networks.

Designer: Mathieu Stern x DALL-E 2

There will be many debates around creativity and originality, but even the pros would argue that there isn’t anything completely original these days. If anything, the greatest designs and creations come from imaginative minds that are able to pick out concepts, themes, and ideas from other, sometimes unrelated things and mix them together in an appealing way. Of course, it takes more than a great idea to make a great product, and this brilliant set of made-up camera designs is proof of that.

Photographer Mathieu Stern decided to give DALL-E 2 a try to see what the fuss is all about. The AI has been dubbed as a Picasso, that is if Picasso had no body and lived as bits and bytes inside some giant computer somewhere. At the risk of trivializing the math and science involved, DALL-E 2 is able to take descriptions typed in a natural language like English and create works of art from its understanding of those descriptions. Its output has been impressive, to say the least, but probably mind-blowing when it comes to generating potential product design ideas.

The photographer fed the AI phrases that simply combined the type of camera with a famous brand or a fictional character, or even historical people and things. The results that DALL-E 2 delivered were indeed mind-blowing, both in entertainment value as well as in actual design. While some seemed over-the-top and literal interpretations of the prompts, there were a few that really seemed like something that could be presented to the brand owners for a collaboration to create a special edition full or medium-format camera.

Of course, just because the AI was able to generate images of potential design ideas doesn’t mean it is anywhere near ready to take the place of designers or even artists. The way it combines visual elements into something truly believable is indeed amazing, but it would be nothing more than a decorative piece if you tried to make it real. It will still take a lot of human involvement to generate the initial prompts, sift through the results, and actually create usable designs from the AI-generated ideas. If anything, these images only serve as inspiration and reference, just like any other painting, product, or idea at a designer’s disposal.