Nigerian artist uses AI to re-imagine stylish life for the elderly and show the bright side of old age
Artificial intelligence has dominated the headlines news in recent months, thanks to the sudden popularity of ChatGPT, an OpenAI’s dialogue-based artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot launched in November. As AI makes its way into the mainstream, users including creators and artists are now finding new uses for the technology.
One of those users is a Nigerian artist who is using AI to re-imagine life for elderly people in Africa by showcasing near real-life pictures and videos of them walking down a runway and on the beach.
Malik Afegbua, who is also a filmmaker, an XR artist, and CEE of a startup called Slick City, said he decided to create the pictures and the videos after he realized that many African elderly people were marginalized in society, especially in the fashion world. So decided to imagine how they would look if they were models. Afegbua started sharing them on social media. It didn’t take long before they went viral and his work has since been featured on BBC News and other mainstream media outlets.
Although AI has been around in some form or fashion since 1956 when John McCarthy coined the term ‘artificial intelligence’ at the first AI conference, AI didn’t catch on until the 2000s and early 2010s when it was used in the first commercial robotic vacuum cleaner. Fast forward more than a decade later, AI has permeated every facet of our lives.
At his home in Lagos, Nigeria, Afegbua created “Elders Series”, a hyper-realistic catalog of pictures and videos that showed white-haired African women and bearded men parading the runway for a virtual fashion show in Afrocentric attire, including ornamental neck and arm bands.
Afegbua said that what he’s doing with his work is teaching AI to become more creative and, in turn, he makes new discoveries.
“Artificial intelligence learns from us and learns from the World Wide Web. I try to learn from it as well. I try to learn how to talk to it, how to communicate better to get exact results from it.”
Afegbua told Reuters, which first reported the story, that the idea was to explore a different world for old people came when his elderly mother fell ill. Using the AI app, he started creating content showing a brighter side of old age.
“I’m a lover of fashion, and I always like to experiment. I wanted to mix traditional African Nigerian fashion with something futuristic, something Afro-futuristic.”
You can watch the video below.