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Human designer and AI collaborate to design dresses for Fashion Week Tokyo

Fashion designer Ema Rie, right, stands next to one of the dresses she designed in cooperation with AI, modeled by Momoko, in Tokyo's Minato Ward on Feb. 15, 2019. (Mainichi/Etsuko Nagayama)

TOKYO -- Dresses created in collaboration between a real-life human fashion designer and artificial intelligence (AI) will make their first appearance March 20 at Japan's biggest fashion event, Fashion Week Tokyo.

AI programmed to "learn" dresses designed by renowned wedding dress designer Ema Rie presented Ema with designs that it "invented," which Ema then used as a launching pad from which to create dress designs.

The RIKEN Center for Advanced Intelligence Project (AIP), where the country's top-class AI researchers gather, and the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo cooperated with the project to see how much of a harmonious coexistence humans and AI can lead.

AI used a method called "deep learning" to study some 500 of Ema's works, and produced images of dresses it created on its own based on what it had learned. Moreover, AI that can change photos into styles like that of classic painting masters were used to process Ema's dress designs and plants, which then produce images that Ema used as inspiration to design dresses. Signal waveforms emitted by cutting-edge manmade nerve cells were also used by Ema to spark new ideas.

There have been no instances so far of AI and designers collaborating to this extent to create dresses, and Ema and the researchers who took part say the process was one of a series of trials and errors. For example, the images produced by AI that underwent deep learning were like abstract paintings with fuzzy silhouettes.

"I'm looking forward to what kind of beauty we'll be presented with at the fashion show, created by Ema, based on images produced by AI, which had no concept of what a dress was," said Jun Seita, a RIKEN researcher.

"My imagination and enthusiasm for creating was stoked by the images produced by AI," Ema said. The fashion show, which will only be open to those involved in the project, will feature around 20 dresses. Ema and the researchers who took part in the project will participate in a symposium at the Institute of Industrial Science and the University of Tokyo in Tokyo's Meguro Ward starting at 3 p.m. on March 20.

(Etsuko Nagayama, Opinion Group)

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