Lensa AI and “Magic Avatars”: What you should know before using the app

Lensa AI and “Magic Avatars”: What you should know before using the app

Have the obsolete one selfie that has been used as your profile picture disappeared a bit also long without an update? You’ve probably seen friends use the Lensa AI app to create colorful, custom cartoon images of themselves as ethereal fairies or stern astronauts. Prisma Labs, the company behind Lensa, went viral back in 2016 with a similar (albeit less powerful) app that turned smartphone photos into paintings.

The release of Lensa’s “magical avatars” feature is a global hit for the company. Recent advances in generative artificial intelligence allow the app to produce more impressive and varied results than its predecessor. According to preliminary estimates provided by Sensor Tower, over 4 million people worldwide downloaded the app in the first five days of December. In the same time period, users spent over $8 million in the app.

Contents

This content can also be viewed on the site from which it originates.

However, AI-generated profile pictures have always raised questions about digital privacy. If you’re curious about whether it’s a good idea to use Lensa, here’s what to consider before spending money and uploading your selfies.

Always read the privacy policy

Before you dive in, take a minute to review the privacy policy and terms of service to get a better understanding of what the app does with your data. “We must always be aware when our biometric data is used for any purpose. This is sensitive data. We should be extra careful about how this data is used,” says David Leslie, director of ethics and responsible innovation research at the Alan Turing Institute and professor at Queen’s Mary University of London.

See also  Meta's Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp are back after a short downtime

Andrey Usoltsev, CEO and co-founder of Prisma Labs, claimed the company is working on updating its privacy policy in an email to WIRED. “Lensa uses a copy of the Stable Diffusion model and teaches it to recognize the face in the uploaded images in each case. This means that there is a separate model for each individual user,” writes Usoltsev. “The user’s photos are deleted from our servers as soon as the avatars are generated. The servers are located in the United States.”

While it’s impossible to know exactly how a company uses and stores your data without an independent review, this statement is a step in the right direction. With that in mind, however, uploads are only a small part of the larger equation.

The security implications beyond your uploaded photos

While biometrics may be your first concern, it’s also crucial to understand how much additional data is automatically collected from your smartphone. Lensa may use third-party analytics, log file information, device identifiers and registered user information to collect data about you. Go to Section 3 of the Privacy Policy to check it out in detail.

Any user may opt out of this data collection by contacting the Company at [email protected] If you use an iOS device, you have the option to opt out by going into your privacy settings. To be fair, it’s not just Lensa: Every app on your phone is probably collecting more data than you realize. Even if you decide to trust Lensa with your personal data, it is entirely possible for the data to change hands if the company is acquired in the future. “This happens especially when it goes into larger companies that are much better at fudging how they talk about it,” said Ben Winters, director of AI and human rights projects at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

See also  Man duped of over Rs 50 lakh through missed calls, Hyderabad police warn residents

Do not import images of children or nudity

It is against the terms of use to insert images of children or nudity to generate images on Lensa. But even if you don’t post nudes, women can get hypersexual results; “The app not only generates nude photos, but also attributes cartoonish sexualized features, such as sultry poses and giant breasts, to their photos. I, for example, received several fully nude results despite only uploading headshots, writes WIRED contributor Olivia Snow. The app generated disturbing images when Snow uploaded childhood photos, turning what would have been stylized memories into dehumanizing images. “Since the feature is not designed for minors, we advise against using images of children,” writes Usoltsev.

Lensa can also produce sexual images of adults without their consent. “It is a potential case where insufficient care has been taken to protect the dignity of individuals,” says Leslie. “When technologies can cause harm, we are on the hook to do everything we can to anticipate those impacts.”

Be prepared for strange or offensive results

It’s not just funky fingers and other heads, you can also get results that are racist or sexist when you interact with generative AI. “The Internet is filled with many images that will push AI image generators towards subjects that may not be the most comfortable, whether they are sexually explicit images or images that can shift people’s AI portraits towards racial caricatures,” says Grant Fergusson, an Equal Justice Works -scholarship at EPIC.

Consider the greater impact for real artists

See also  Criteria for improving your privacy on mobile devices

Some artists are embracing the potential of generative AI to produce fascinating results. Others are much more wait-and-see about the technology’s potential consequences. “The commercialization of these image generators will have an impact on the artists’ ability to continue to sustain themselves in the long term,” says Leslie.

Although a more expensive route, those who can afford it should consider commissioning smaller artists to create digital pieces for their new profile picture, phone background or portrait. Instagram and Twitter are full of artists working in a variety of styles that you can never get from generative AI, and many of them are eager for commissions. For a nominal fee, you can get something completely unique and personal. You can even ask around at your art center and support a local artist.

Try deleting the app afterwards

Let’s say you’ve considered all of the above and still decide to spend a few bucks to get a pack of “magical avatars”. After you’ve saved your colorful creations, check out the photo and video editing options on Lensa. Is this something you want to use often, or is it just another app collecting digital dust on your smartphone? “Check your settings, delete after use, and use any rights they offer you,” Winters advises anyone concerned about data collection.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *