Like it or not, the world is teeming with people. They’re everywhere. So when you’re in a busy area trying to capture the perfect shot of a particular setting, building, or object, someone’s bound to get in the way. You could take 100 photos in a row until you manage to time it just right, give up in exasperation, or try out a new app that promises to erase all humans from your photos.
“Bye Bye Camera” uses artificial intelligence to recognize the outline of a person and pairs it with a tool called “context-aware fill,” essentially Photoshopping unwanted figures out of your images within seconds.
If you’re reading the phrases “artificial intelligence” and “erase all humans” and feeling a little concerned, the app developer has a message for you: “This is not the next photo editing startup. It’s a piece of software art.”
Definitely more than a little tongue-in-cheek, Bye Bye Camera is not going to give you flawlessly edited photos. In the photo above from Artnome, you can see how the neural network took out the subject and filled in the background, but left a mysterious shadow behind.
It’s a little bit messy, and a little bit haphazard. Each one takes quite a while to process, and the results can be a little unpredictable. While it’s a real app that you can download from the Apple app store for $2.99, it’s also kind of a joke, calling itself “the camera for the post-human era.”
“Every picture you take automatically removes any person. Finally you can take a selfie without yourself!”
Just the idea of a post-human era might send some people hurtling toward an existential crisis, pondering what it means to be human and what the Earth will look like without us. But hey, not many apps can claim that power.
Bye Bye Camera’s description says it will leave all animals intact, and in a perfect world, it would. Unfortunately, The Verge found that it occasionally decides to erase dogs and leave the people in the frame instead (along with errant clumps of hair).
The app was created by an artist who goes by the alias damjanksi, co-founder and member of the collective Do Something Good.
“I’ve created this project together with two of my longtime collaborators, Andrej and Pavel from Russia,” the artist told Artnome. “A couple of years ago, I created a collective called Do Something Good where I connected all the people I’ve collaborated with online. By now we’re 16 people around the world from different fields and collaborate on different projects.”
“The app takes out the vanity of any selfie and also the person. I consider Bye Bye Camera an app for the post-human era. It’s a gentle nod to a future where complex programs replace human labor and some would argue the human race. It’s interesting to ask what is a human from an Ai (yes, the small “i” is intended) perspective? In this case, a collection of pixels that identify a person based on previously labeled data. But who labels this data that defines a person immaterially? So many questions for such an innocent little camera app.”
In other words, don’t download Bye Bye Camera hoping it will actually work. But if you’re looking for a bit of fun, it’s well worth the $2.99.