This AI tool transforms selfies into a masterpiece – and won’t steal your data

After the controversy with the FaceApp craze last week, smartphone users are a little more wary of apps that promise to turn selfies into something altogether different.

However, the chance to transform those whimsical pics into classical portraits might be too much for some people to resist. Especially because this new web app will turn you in something that looks rather nice, instead of someone who’s been in God’s waiting room a little too long.

The web-based AI Portraits Ars app has been built by researchers at the MIT-IMB Watson AI Lab and will allow users to fashion themselves after one of 45,000 portraits from artists like Van Gogh, Caravaggio and Rembrandt.

Related: Best smartphone 2019

The website points out that this is not a style transfer app akin to something like Prisma. IBM says AI Portraits Ars uses GAN models to generate a new painting where facial lines are completely redesigned.

The company says: “The model decides for itself which style to use for the portrait. Details of the face and background contribute to direct the model towards a style. In style transfer, there is usually a strong alteration of colours, but the features of the photo remain unchanged. AI Portraits Ars creates new forms, beyond altering the style of an existing photo.”

Given the recent controversy about Russians potentially sopping up your phone’s entire photo library via FaceApp, IBM requires users to accept a privacy policy before they continue with the upload.

In part, it reads: “Your image will be sent to an IBM server in the US, processed by IBM for the sole purpose of generating a renaissance style portrait based on the pixel information from your uploaded image, and then immediately be deleted. Your uploaded image and any corresponding data will not be used for any other purposes.”

If you’re giving the tool a try, IBM is currently limiting uploads to ensure users have a good experience, so a little patience might be required.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor