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Viral post breaks down how those popular Lensa AI profiles are not as harmless as they seem

'AI art isn't cute.'

lensa app, lensa backlash
Gen Ishihara/Facebook

"AI art isn't cute."

Odds are you’ve probably seen those Lensa AI avatars floating around social media. You know, the app that turns even the most basic of selfies into fantasy art masterpieces? I wouldn’t be surprised if you have your own series of images filling up your photo bank right now. Who wouldn’t want to see themselves looking like a badass video game character or magical fairy alien?

While getting these images might seem like a bit of innocent, inexpensive fun, many are unaware that it comes at a heavy price to real digital artists whose work has been copied to make it happen. A now-viral Facebook and Instagram post, made by a couple of digital illustrators, explains how.


In a very thorough series of slides, Gen Ishihara and her fiance Jon Lam reveal that Lensa is easily able to render those professional looking images by using a Stable Diffusion model, which is more or less an open source (meaning free) program where users can type in a series of words and artificial intelligence will conjure up images based on those typed words. Type out a group of seemingly unrelated words like “ethereal,” “cat,” “comic style” and “rainbow,” and out will pop at least one cohesive, intricate piece of art. All in less than a minute. This foundation is what most mainstream AI art software operates on, by the way—not just Lensa.

lensa steals from artists

"...there's more than meets the eye"

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The problem here is that Stable Diffusion has been trained on yet another open source collection of data from a nonprofit called LAION. LAION has more than 5 billion publicly accessible images. If you can find it online, LAION has a picture of it, categorized as “research.”

Not only does this include copyrighted work, but also personal medical records, as well as disturbing images of violence and sexual abuse. But for the sake of not delving too far into darkness, we’ll focus on the copyright issue.

ai art

LAION's database includes copyrighted work, personal medical records and disturbing images of violence and sexual abuse.

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While LAION might be a nonprofit, Stable Diffusion is valued at $1 billion. And Lensa (which uses Stable Diffusion) has so far earned $29 million in consumer spending. Meanwhile, artists whose work can be found in that database have made zero.

“The Lensa app is a great way to get the general public comfortable with using the software and turn a blind eye to how the data was collected. The technology is so new that laws have not caught up with AI tech yet. But that doesn't make it okay,” the post read.

lensa app

"The Lensa app is a great way to get the general public comfortable with using the software and turn a blind eye to how the data was collected."

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Ishihara and Lam listed real artists who have been affected by Lensa’s use of data laundering, including Greg Rutkowski, whose “name has been used as a prompt around 93,000 times.” He even had his name attached to a piece of AI art that he did not create. Again, simply type in “Greg Rutkowski” along with whatever thing you want illustrated, and the program will create something drawn in his style.

You can see why someone who dedicated a good portion of their life to developing a skill that now can be replicated at a fraction of the effort—and without earning compensation—might not be a huge fan of these trends.

lensa magic avatars

Maybe it's more than harmless fun.

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The post then followed up by debunking several pro-AI statements, first pointing out that AI programs are being updated and improved so fast that distinguishing it from the work of human art is becoming impossible—meaning that it does in fact threaten the livelihood of a real artist who simply cannot compete with a machine.

Also shown was a poster created in Midjourney to promote the San Francisco Ballet’s upcoming “Nutcracker” performance, showing that AI media has indeed already begun to replace human jobs.

One of the most common arguments in the AI debate is that all art is derivative, since artists similarly draw inspiration from other sources. While this is true, Ishihara and Lam would contend that the organic process of blending “reference material, personal taste and life experiences to inform artistic decisions” is vastly different than a computer program depending on data that is existing artistic property and then used for commercial purposes without consent.

Adding further credibility to this viewpoint, there’s another post floating around the internet showing Lensa portraits where a warped version of the artist’s signature is still visible (seen below).

Rather than doing away with AI art altogether, what Ishihara, Lam and others are pushing for are better regulations for companies that allow for this technology to coexist with human artists.

This might be easier said than done, but some progress has already been made in that arena. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for example, has begun demanding that corporations destroy any algorithm or AI models built using personal information or data collected “in bad faith or illegally.”

Second, they want people to educate themselves. Several other artists agreed that people who have used apps like Lensa aren’t wrong for doing so, but that moving forward there needs to be awareness of how it affects real people. Really, this is pretty much the case for all seemingly miraculous advancements in technology.

And for the creators feeling hopeless by all this, Ishihara and Lam say “whatever you do, don’t stop creating,” adding that it’s more important than ever to not “give up on what you love.”

The conversation around the ethical implications of AI is complex. While posts like these might come across as a form of fear-mongering or finger-wagging, it’s important to gather multiple points of view in order to engage in nuanced conversations and move forward in a way that includes everyone’s well-being.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

@jennielongdon/TikTok, Photo credit: Canva

It might not be hip, but it makes sense!

Online shopping is an integral part of adult life no matter what age group you fall into. But apparently there’s one digital spending habit that didn’t make it to Gen Z.

UK-based radio host Jennie Longdon recently went viral for sharing how—despite being able to do virtually everything from our phones—folks over the age of 30 can’t seem to part with using their laptops for “big purchases.”

“Takeaway , clothes, shoes within reason, yeah,” she says in a clip posted to her TikTok. “But…a plane ticket? That’s a laptop job!”

Longdon continues to feign disgust as she imagines big purchases being made from the phone, as these items obviously require the larger screen. It’s just something that a millennial brain cannot get behind. “We cannot make a big or significant purchase on the phone. You can't browse properly."

“Bigger screens for the big things please,” her video caption reads.

@jennielongdon Bigger screen for the big things please. #millennial #millennialsoftiktok #millenialmum #fyp #foryou ♬ original sound - Jennie Longdon

But there may be some sound reasoning behind this seemingly outdated logic. According to Fluid Commerce, the average desktop provides “over 3 times as much information” as a smartphone screen, allowing for more research. Laptops might not offer quite as much information as a desktop, but they certainly offer more than a phone, and it’s just good common sense to want as much information as possible before making an investment.

Either way, most millennials seem willing to die on this hill.

“Big purchases on the computer because I don’t trust mobile apps to show me everything I need to know,” one wrote in the comments.

“Big purchase requires the big internet,” added another.

A third said, "I will literally look at the information on my phone, then go get my laptop to go to the same site to book it.”

A few even shared horror stories of trying things the newfangled way and it backfiring immediately.

“I lived dangerously the other day and booked a hotel room on my phone and it tools ages buffering at the confirmation screen and I was fuming and knew I should’ve done it on my laptop,” one person lamented.

Another wrote, "I booked a mini break on my phone once and I accidentally refreshed the page with my thumb midway through booking.”

Still, there are some millennials who are on board with the phones-only approach.

"I booked flights, accommodation, and extracurriculars for four people on my phone recently,” one person wrote. "I was so proud."

Another said, "I'm a millennial and I just booked my Vegas hotel and flights on the phone. It's.....fine....."

Lastly—kudos to this commenter, who truly got to the root of this issue by saying:

“We grew up in an age when mobile websites were terrible and we’ve never forgotten it.”

That really hits the nail on the head, doesn’t it? Some scars just never truly heal.

Mom uses baby instruments to parody Rage Against the Machine

Sometimes you have to just rage against the machine, especially when you're trying to sing some sick tunes and your toddler is demanding Old McDonald. Look kid, the cow goes moo, let mama show you some real music. A mom that goes by the username Big Merla on TikTok has been creating parodies of 90s songs using her toddler's musical instruments.

In one of her most recent musical ventures, she took on Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name." Who knew baby xylophones could go so hard? Parents immediately screamed yes to this version of the rock classic. How could they not when the lyrics are so dang relatable.

"Old McDonald farms horses, toddlers rage like rude bosses," will be stuck in people's heads on repeat for weeks. Merla has talent too, she not only plays the xylophone, she plays a tiny piano and a whack a mole type toy to create the beat to the famous song.


Of course toddlers won't do what you tell them so Merla didn't even have to mess with those particular lyrics. The entire song is sung from a toddler's perspective and fully encompasses what adults likely imagine their thought process to be. Just walking around moody, demanding and filled with unintelligible rage when things don't go their way. They're super cute and laugh at nonsensical things so it balances out.

Check out her performance:

@bigmerla Rage Against the Machine 👶🏻🐣🍼 #rageagainstthemachine ♬ original sound - Big Merla

Commenters love the one woman private concert she put on for her uninterested toddler. Several commented on how Tom Morello would be proud. Morello was a founding member, singer and guitarist for Rage Against the Machine a rock band that mixed metal with rap and left leaning politics.

"Congratulations on inventing an entirely new genre of music," someone writes.

"I don't have kids but I am a 30 year old with ADHD and find these videos so entertaining," another person says.

"Epic!!! This is the creativity yay[that] can only be found when talent meets parental sleep deprivation. Rock on," a commenter writes.

"These videos are my absolute favorites. I need a Spotify playlist please," one person demands.

Big Merla has an entire playlist on her TikTok account that include Snoop Dogg's "Drop it Like it's Hot" and System of a Down's "Chop Suey." Maybe Merla should consider creating a baby tunes playlist on music platforms, 90s kids will certainly enjoy it.

Representative Photo by Siobhan Kelleher|Wikimedia Commons

Elderly cats now safe thanks to adorable cat retirement village

There is an amazing retirement village now accepting guests but instead of catering to elderly people, it's designed for elderly cats. Shropshire Cat Rescue has been rescuing elderly cats that are set to be euthanized and providing them with top notch elder care.

The owner of the rescue was tired of seeing older cats get passed over for adoption and subsequently put to sleep simply because they were old so she decided to do something about it. That's where the idea for Shropshire Cat Rescue came from and they've got cats wandering the retirement village who are over 20 years old. One cat, lovingly named Cat, loves to hang out in the little "store" in the tiny cat town, while others lounge in cat condos.

Veterinarian, Dr. Scott Miller, owner of an elderly cat himself wet to visit the feline retirement community to check it out. He was impressed with how much the retirement community had to offer the cats that call it home.


Shropshire Cat Rescue is in England, but it's not the only retirement home out there for felines. A Florida couple opened a retirement home for elderly cats, too. Terry and Bruce Jenkins decided to open their home for elderly cats in their back yard, rescuing them from "hardship situations." The Jenkins' don't adopt the old kitties out, they let them live out their years cozy in their back yard.

In fact, there are several retirement homes for cats in America, but the Shropshire village truly looks like a mini town. It comes complete with stores and other town staples designed for cats to lounge about in, but humans also use the store fronts to store items for the cats.

Watch:

Shropshire Cat Rescue currently has about 17 cats and has a program set up that allows local kids to come play with the cats. The elderly cats get to socialize with humans and other cats while receiving whatever care they need. The retirement home is the last stop for these old guys so there's no effort to rehome them.

These cats simply get to live out the rest of their lives being loved on by volunteers and the visiting children. Maybe even more retirement homes will start popping up across the country.

Family

Kids will be kids: 12 wild animals share totally relatable parenting woes

Watch how these different species handle tantrums, bath time, and kids who refuse to cooperate.

Photo by Sophie Dale on Unsplash

Parenting in the animal kingdom sometimes looks a lot like human parenting.

"Is my kid the only one who does this?" Parents find themselves pondering this question all the time. No matter how great your children are, they will sometimes do things that make you wonder how you ever thought you had the patience and energy to be a parent.

The good news is, the resounding answer is "no"—your child is most certainly not alone in whatever inexplicable thing they are doing, whether it's throwing a tantrum over their cup being the wrong color (even though it's the one they specifically asked for) or somehow scaling to the top of the refrigerator in the 0.3 seconds you took your eyes off them.

In fact, parents across the animal kingdom have to deal with similar behavior challenges from their offspring. Though human parenting is obviously more complex, seeing that kids are kids no matter the species can be comforting for parents who have reached their wit's end.


How familiar are these parenting woes?

When you have to carry your toddler to where you need them to be, only to have them run away immediately

Her blank stare into the distance at the end is all too relatable. As one commenter wrote, "That’s the look of let me calm down before the 'I brought you in this world and I can take you out' comes into play. 😂😂"

When you're trying to pull your toddler away from something that's completely captured their curiosity

Mama's like, "Come on, sweetie…nope, this way…you need to leave these nice people alone now…time to go…I know you really like it, but we have to go now…hey, I have a snack…how about some ice cream?"

When your baby is just barely walking and you want to help them, but you also know they have to slip and fall sometimes to learn

Sweet little muffin.

When it's time to leave the playground and your kiddo 100% does not want to

100% familiar.

When you're trying to take a nap with your child and they won't stop fidgeting

@abc7newsbayarea

A fidgety polar bear cub was seen attempting to nestle atop its mother at a park near Churchill, Manitoba. Video shows the small cub constantly shifting in an attempt to find the perfect resting position along the back of its sleepy mother. #polarbear #polarbears #bear #bears #cub #polarbearcub #mommabear #snow #animal #animals #churchill #manitoba #news #fyp #foryoupage #abc7news

"Just lie still and go to sleeeeeeep."

When the teen starts getting too big for their britches and thinks they can do whatever

The look that said, "When you start paying the mortgage, you can sit wherever you want."

When your kid hates the bath but they desperately need one

Some kids love the bath and some kids hate it. This is as true for pandas as it is for humans, apparently.

When your kid won't stop using you as a climbing apparatus

@gorilla.garden

Praha Zoo. Funny interaction between Nuru the gorilla boy and his dad Richardovi. Original footage of the video screen is from Facebook author Martina Šmelová.Thank you for sharing interesting stories about Praha Zoo and hope more viewers will follow them.#gorilla #silverback #fpy #foryou #silverbackgorilla #gorillas #babygorilla #animals #zoo

Seriously, kid. I am not a jungle gym.

When Dad says no, so the kid goes running to Mom

@us.gem

Humans alike 🥺 #gorrila #zoo #pov #jackieinteresting #cute #animals #foryou

If not for a yes, at least for some sympathy.

When Mom is touched out and at the end of her rope

@frolic.the.meadow

#zoo #funnyanimals #babygorilla #Kayembe #mamalife #momlife #mommalife

You're a loving, affectionate mother 99% of the time, but then you hit the "If one more person touches me one more time today" breaking point.

When the whining and complaining is relentless

@tednewy

Cute baby Emperor Penguins complaining to their mom “I'm so hungry!!” #emperorpenguin #babypenguin #cutepenguin #penguinlovers #ocean #birdlife #birdvideography #birdwatching #nature #birdwildlife #birdnature #wildlife #birdoftiktok #birdslove #birdlover #birdlovers #birds #bird #duniaburung #pencintaburung #burung #antartica

Pretty sure this is the penguin equivalent of, "Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama…"

When the kiddo's throwing a non-stop tantrum and you just needs a break

@animal_world140

#fyp #nature #wildlife #interesting #babyanimals #koala

Sometimes you're able to help a tantruming child work through their feelings, and sometimes you need to step away before you lose your mind. It's called balance.

Parenting is full of joys as well as challenges, and it's nice to know we're not alone in either. What's interesting is how calm and patient most of these parents are in the faces of their kids' shenanigans. Perhaps there's a lesson there for all of us, regardless of species.

Let's bring this kind of dancing back.

Ready to get transported back to the Decade of Decadence? Cause this wholesome new TikTok trend is gonna put you right back in the attitude-filled, neon colored post-disco era otherwise known as the 80s.

Specifically, it’s going to take you back to an 80s dance club.

In the trend, kids ask their parents to “dance like it’s the 80s,” as the 1984 track “Smalltown Boy” by the British pop band Bronski Beat plays in the background. The song's high energy tempo mixed with heartbreaking, anguish-ridden lyrics make it a fitting choice to bring us back to the time period.

As for the parents—let's just say that muscle memory kicks in the minute the tune begins to play, and it’s a whole vibe.


Check out Tabatha Lynn's video of her mom, Leanne Lynn, which currently has over 8 million views.

@tabathalynnk My moms 80s dance moves, I wanna be her when I grow up 😍 our kids better not ask us this in 30 years 😂 #80s #momsoftiktok #dancemoves ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

Leanne and Tabatha told TODAY that since going viral, the dance is now a common “topic of conversation in the family text group.”

There are two factors here that folks really seem to connect with.

One: 80s dancing was simple. Just moving to the rhythm, maybe a head bob for some flair or a robot if you’re feeling adventurous. Of course, the 80s had ambitious moves like the worm and the moonwalk, but for the most part it was just about groovin’ to beat.

@marynepi One thing about Ms. Suzanne, shes gonna slay. #fypage #dance #slay #80s #yasqueen #trending #trend ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

Then there’s seeing the parents light up at the chance to go back to the days of their youth.

“I can literally see the young women in these women spring out in fluidity. Love this trend,” one person commented.

@lavaleritaaa Love her 😭 “Se me espeluco el moño” 😂 #80s #momdancechallenge ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

Another seconded, “I love seeing moms remember when they were just themselves.”

Of course, dads are totally rocking this trend too. Check it out:

@chrisbrown711 I dont normally do trends but i got in on this one. How did I do? #fyp #blessed #80sdancechallenge #80smusic #80s ♬ original sound - Tiktok / IG strategy 🚀

The 80s was a time of rapid expansion for music. Much of this we have the birth of MTV to thank for, which subsequently dropped music videos, CDs and a vast array of sub genres straight into the heart of pop culture.

Plus, the 80s brought us the synthesizer, which remains a strangely satisfying sound even in 2024. So while the era might have brought some things that most of us would prefer not to revisit—like acid washed denim and awful, awful hairstyles—some of its gems are truly timeless.

The trend also shows how, even though the weekly outing to a dance hall might be a thing of the past, people inherently want to bust a move. Luckily, there’s no shortage of clubs that cater to someone’s music tastes, no matter the era.

Speaking for 00s teens everywhere…just play the Cha Cha slide and we’ll come a-runnin.