Photos: AI Imagines the Most Stereotypical Person From San Francisco

Artificial intelligence powered image generations like Midjourney are amazing. You can feed them a simple text description, and they’ll create mesmerizing images that look totally realistic.

Recently, a hilarious trend has emerged on social media. People have been using AI image generators to create imagined AI photographs of “the most stereotypical person” from a given place.

Some of these are truly funny, not necessarily for their accuracy, but because they reveal how an intelligent machine views us humans. The result for France, for example, shows a man who looks like a mime in a beret standing in front of the Eiffel Tower.

We decided to try the trend out, but with a San Francisco focus. To that end, we asked the popular AI image generation system Midjourney to create photos of the most stereotypical San Franciscans.

Here’s the first result:

As a long time Bay Area resident, I have to say that Midjourney has our number!

Let’s start with the outfit. This imagined person is wearing at least four different layers. His clothes manage to look both tattered and extremely expensive at the same time. He has a beanie in a vaguely beige color. In short, this is a perfect sendup of an SF outfit.

Also, he’s wearing a scarf. Because, of course he is!

Let’s take a look at his other accessories, too. He’s got a backpack, but also appears to be wearing a messenger bag. You can never have too many male object schlepping accessories here in our fair city!

His bespoke glasses and overall slightly nerdy look make me feel like he might be a tech worker. But a prominent Apple Watch and some AirPods in his ears to confirm it would have been nice.

The background is perfect, too. It’s a slightly foggy and overcast scene in which there’s a bustling crowd, yet everyone somehow manages to be looking away from each other.

Overall, we were quite impressed with Midjourney’s vision of the stereotypical person from the City by the Bay. There are definitely some issues. The photos aren’t very diverse, which likely reflects overall biases in today’s AI systems.

We also had to manually prompt the system to generate female-appearing people. Again, more diverse and varied responses would be better. Still, the results are amusing, and also illustrate the power of today’s AI—and what the machines think of San Franciscans.

Here are a few other stereotypical San Francisco residents that it dreamed up. Which one is your favorite? Do you see yourself reflected in any of them?

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

Leave a Reply

Back to top button