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AI Is Turning Iconic Memes Into Videos & It's Incredibly Creepy

Artificial intelligence isn't just taking our jobs, it's also ruining our memes. Over the last few years, generative AI has blown up in popularity and it seems like each day there's a brand new innovation. Luma AI is one such company that's advancing the technology, debuting Dream Machine, which they say is "an AI model that makes high quality, realistic videos fast from text and images." X (formerly known as Twitter) user @hey_madni is highlighting some of the creations that Dream Machine has pumped out, particularly how the AI model is turning images of iconic, classic memes into short but complex videos. 

The first post, which has over 25 million views as of this writing, shows how Luma turned the classic "Distracted Boyfriend" meme into an extremely creepy video. 

While it's definitely weird how the video shows a man following another woman, the clip also shows just how limited AI still is. The facial features of the three individuals in the video are awkward and lifeless, especially as the clip progresses. By the end, the girlfriend's face becomes immediately distorted. The boyfriend, meanwhile, stutters as he walks toward the new girl, maintaining a confused face. The woman distracting the boyfriend appears to be gliding as the clip wraps up, making her movement extremely awkward and jarring. If these are the innovative big changes that are coming to movies and TV because of AI, we really don't want them. 

These AI meme videos are impressive but still terrifying

While it's easy to scoff at these memes-turned-videos, it's quite remarkable just how much the technology has advanced. The second clip in this Twitter thread expands the "Disaster Girl" meme in a unique way, showing two firefighters interacting with one another. 

There's a certain documentary-like effect as the video pans from the Disaster Girl's reaction shot to two approaching firefighters. What's interesting is how Dream Machine was able to create and add two fire personnel walking into frame. In the meme, there's seemingly only one firefighter in the distance, making these two people completely original. The AI also adds another firetruck, further expanding the sequence in a realistic way. But just like the "Distracted Boyfriend" video, the firefighter's faces and body movements are awkward. While it definitely feels off, it's also fascinating (and terrifying) that the model was able to turn a simple image into an intricate scene with various moving parts. 

With tools like these, it's easy to see why director Steven Soderbergh is open to AI being involved in the film industry. If models like this continues to improve, studios won't need to hire extras or commission props to make a scene feel fully realized. During the 2023 actors strike, artificial intelligence was a hot button issue, especially among stars who didn't approve of the AMPTP's proposal to use AI-likeness for actors. Beyond Hollywood, it's also disturbing to imagine how AI can cook up videos based on personal, private photographs, which is becoming an increasingly worrying concern for many. 

What's the point of these AI-generated meme videos?

Luma AI's Dream Machine does a decent enough job turning classic memes into videos ... but what's the actual point of doing so? The original thread creator highlights 10 videos, none of which do anything interesting with the technology. Nor do they need to, as they're just memes, which are constantly remixed by users to convey certain information or feelings. Consider the AI's take on the forever iconic "Doge" meme, which shows an adorable but awkward dog staring into a camera. 

In the video, the dog has its signature look for the first few seconds, then looks away, completely distorting the image, with the final version of the canine barely resembling the doggie we know and love. What's the point of seeing a dog look away? It adds nothing to the meme, which is frequently used on social media to convey irony or confusion. 

Or how about the "Success Kid" video, which shows a child gleefully making a fist: 

In the Dream Machine video, the kid does the exact same thing as the "Doge" video. The child stares at the user, doing their iconic pose at the beach, and then looks away, giving us no new information or emotion. Ultimately, these memes-turned-videos are cheap parlor tricks that don't expand upon the original photographs in a unique or interesting way.