May Cause Flashbacks

Making the rounds today is a neural-network project from Google called DeepDream. It’s an open-source effort to train neural networks to recognize images (for you programmers, the code is here). I haven’t had any time to give this a close look, but if I understand correctly, when the system is presented with an unfamiliar image it tries to make sense of it in terms of images it has already seen — breaking down the new image and mapping known image fragments onto it wherever it can.

What’s attracting attention is the psychedelic imagery this thing produces. Some of it is eerily beautiful, while other images and animations are, I think, profoundly disturbing. It resembles very closely the visual effects produced by hallucinogenic drugs — a constant “filling-in” of every part of the visual field with half-formed and tentative patterns in continuous motion.

At this webpage, for example, is what the DeepDream code did when applied to a scene from the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. (This animated GIF shows you how unsettling the effect can be.) Here is a video clip that shows what the software can do with a man’s face. Here is a page with more images, and links to other sites that will run the DeepDream process on pictures you upload. There is also a Reddit page.

I’m going to download this thing and see if I can get it running.


  1. Troy says

    I would say that many of the pictures on this page are exactly what tripping on acid or shrooms is like. Not the fractal stuff though. More like the subtle ones. But I suppose your mileage may vary.

    Posted July 8, 2015 at 1:21 am | Permalink
  2. JK says

    Posted July 8, 2015 at 2:52 am | Permalink
  3. Whitewall says

    Hmm. August 1969 I think. Is that Jefferson Airplane about to take the stage? Richie Havens has exited.

    Posted July 8, 2015 at 6:09 am | Permalink
  4. JK says

    (might want to check – if using Adobe Flash – if its been updated. Short reason can be found here:

    To check version, here:


    Posted July 8, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink
  5. Whitewall says

    Malcolm, I’m glad the travel speed was no greater than it was. Had it gone in reverse…well I could not have handled it.

    Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

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