Artificial Intelligence Shows What Dead Celebrities Would Look Like Today

A Turkish artist is using artificial intelligence tools to age deceased celebrities.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

Artificial intelligence is one of the wonders (and dangers) of the modern age, with unexpected twists seemingly coming with every new day and development. In this latest case, an artist has devised a way to use artificial intelligence algorithms to develop images of what deceased celebrities would look like in the current day (if they had not died, to be clear). Turkish photographer Alper Yesiltas has published many images of dead celebrities aged to 2022 on social media, as you can see above. 

The artificial intelligence-generated images of departed famous people that Alper Yesiltas has created include famous musicians like Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse, actors like Paul Walker and Heath Ledger, and others like Diana, Princess of Wales. According to an interview in My Modern Met, Alper Yesiltas says the images are part of a project titled As If Nothing Happened; the genesis of the collection was his desire to see famous individuals whose presence he missed, as though their deaths had not occurred. He also commented on how modern artificial intelligence tools (among others, he used Remini, an AI photo modifier) created a world in which “anything imaginable can be shown real.”

It is truly fascinating to see what artificial intelligence imagines (in its own digital way) what people might look like had they not died, and particularly to wonder what information was input to build the pictures.

For example, the picture of Michael Jackson imagines the singer with long, curly hair and a heavy beard; whatever information was processed by an artificial intelligence program was presumably curated to not include images of Jackson’s heavy use of plastic surgery and rumored hormonal treatments.

In another, the image of Diana, Princess of Wales, essentially assumes that she would have kept her famous (and very 1990s) pixie cut through decades of her life if she had not died in a paparazzi-assisted car accident in Paris in 1997. 

All of that is to say, while artificial intelligence can potentially visualize anything imaginable, it requires sets of assumptions that can be very odd. On the other hand, imagining older versions of famous people who died before their time (such as one says) is not the worst use of technology, particularly when we have NASA causing people to think that we are actually encountering Star Trek villains just because they are randomly shooting asteroids. If anything, that makes artificial intelligence portraits seem positively quaint. 

artificial intelligence

As artistic projects go, Alper Yesiltas should be praised for harnessing a still-developing technology and using it to make something people can appreciate and feel nostalgic over. In a world where scientists are feverishly developing all the killer robots they can imagine (regardless of the simple lessons that James Cameron has taught us), coming up with pictures of dead people being happy and aged is actually pretty nice. It gives us some interesting images of what Heather Ledger might have looked like in a future role as the Joker or perhaps Paul Walker as a wise mentor in Fast and Furious 20. Strange to imagine.