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These AI-Generated Pokemon Are Better Than The Real Thing

When dedicated Pokemon trainers have already caught them all, what's there left to do? Some new pocket monsters made their debut after an AI program took a look at the existing Pokedex and created its own creatures.

AI programs are powerful things. They can be programmed to create art or generate images based on words. The AI StyleCLIP imagined what famous video game characters would look like in real life, with sometimes horrifying results. NVIDIA's GameGAN created a "Grand Theft Auto" world that, while fuzzy and vague, did a good job of mimicking the actual game. AI programs that build on preexisting knowledge aren't going to take over the world any time soon, but they could change how video games adapt to players.

Max Woolf, a data analyst for Buzzfeed, set up an AI program to look at approximately 900 Pokemon in order to learn how to create its own. "This isn't a joke," Woolf tweeted. "That's how I actually made these." The creatures definitely look like they could be Pokemon, but something seems just a little off about each of them. Poke-fans were understandably entranced by the new designs, naming some of them and choosing favorites amongst the bunch.

Gotta name 'em all

Woolf's creatures caused a stir online, with many gamers picking out the best designs and speculating about what kind of lore those pocket monsters might have. For example, one Twitter user fell in love with a "nightmarish Wigglytuff" with haunting red eyes and a sunken expression. Another commenter dubbed the horror-show Ferius, a dark type Pokemon that is "the embodiment and omen of nightmares."

Other creatures received less creepy backstories. For example, one user asked for potential lore on a Pokemon that was clearly legendary. Another commenter declared the beast Virest, "the protection Pokemon," saying that "some believe that this Pokemon planted the seeds that became the first forest in the world, and to this day it protects against deforestation." The AI-generated Pokemon designs brought gamers together to discuss and daydream about new creatures, while also enjoying some silliness along the way.

Woolf specified that he used "a fine-tuned ruDALL-E on the official Pokemon images," but noted that the AI isn't intuitive or simple to use. Otherwise, he said, he'd create a version users could play around with themselves. For now, fans won't be able to catch them all, but Woolf's creations do provide a look at how the Pokemon of the future may look.