AI Aids in Visualizing Faces of Missing Argentine Children as Adults

NNicholas September 3, 2023 10:12 AM

Santiago Barros has been using artificial intelligence to imagine what the children of parents who disappeared during Argentina's military dictatorship might look like as adults. This AI project, called iabuelas, combines photos of the disappeared parents to create possible adult faces of their stolen children.

Images of lost children brought to life

Santiago Barros, a creative publicist in Argentina, has been harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to help answer a heart-wrenching question: What would the children, taken from their parents during Argentina's military dictatorship, look like as adults today? Barros has been meticulously uploading these AI-generated images to an Instagram account called 'iabuelas'. This initiative provides a unique approach to keeping the painful memories alive while continuing the search for the lost children.

The technology behind the project

To generate the images of these lost children, Barros utilizes a specific app called 'Midjourney'. The app allows him to combine the photos of the disappeared fathers and mothers, creating realistic simulations of possible adult images of their stolen children. The images are then shared on the 'iabuelas' Instagram account, offering two male and two female possibilities for each parental combination. However, the project emphasizes that it doesn't aim to replace DNA testing pursued by the Grandmothers group.

DNA testing remains irreplaceable

While the 'iabuelas' initiative has been praised by the 'Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo', a well-known activist group that searches for missing children, they caution that it should not replace the tried-and-true method of DNA testing. DNA testing continues to be the only foolproof method to establish a credible link between the missing individuals and their biological families. The group has successfully identified 133 grandchildren through this method, out of an estimated 500 children who were snatched during the dictatorship.

The AI-generated images have evoked mixed responses. Some people have pointed out a tendency towards standardization, raising questions about the accuracy of the images. However, there are also instances where families have been taken aback by the uncanny resemblance found in the AI-generated faces to their blood relatives. For instance, Matías Ayastuy was stunned by the striking resemblance of an AI-generated image to one of his cousins. Nonetheless, the project underlines that the results generated by artificial intelligence can sometimes be inaccurate.

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