Two original images and two AI-generated images created by Lensa.

What is that? It’s free?

  • Social media users have been having fun with an app called Lensa and its latest “magic avatar” feature.
  • The app allows people to upload photos of themselves, which are then transformed into magical, whimsical AI images.
  • Some social media users have warned against the apps, saying they steal from artists and pose a security threat to those who upload their photos to the app.

You might look like a warrior, preparing for battle. Or maybe you would like to be surrounded by flowers, wearing a wedding dress. Better yet, how about a goddess?

These representations, called magical avatars, are images created by an app called Lensa. Owned by Prisma Labs, Lensa lets users upload photos of themselves, pay a fee, and within minutes upload photos of themselves in all sorts of fancy settings.

Avatars quickly gained popularity among social media users and celebrities, including Chance the Rapper, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, and Taraji P. Henson.

But while AI-generated photos have been a hit among some, there have been allegations that apps like this are stealing from real artists. Others say they produce racist depictions of users uploading their photos.

Here’s what to know about these magical avatars and how the company responded to warnings against them.

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Two original images and two AI-generated images created by Lensa.

What are the “magical avatars” in the Lensa AI app? How are they created?

This latest fad started with Stability AI, the company that created a network model called Stable Broadcast. The model uses internet data to generate images from text.

Lensa uses a copy of the stable broadcast model, allowing users to upload their own photos and wait for the app to create custom images, the company said on its website. The model was trained using LAION 5B, a large dataset with image-text pairs.


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