PHOTO Nordic AI made the “world’s ugliest Christmas sweater”

Ugliest Christmas sweaterPhoto: Avia / Computas
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The Nordic technology company Computas has, with the help of AI, generated the pattern and design elements to create the world’s ugliest Christmas sweater – and they even knitted it themselves! 

In recent years, the trend “Ugly Christmas Sweater” has made its entrance in the Nordics, and around Christmastime, it’s become something of a sport for many to wear the funniest and ugliest sweaters they can find that incorporate the colors and motifs of the holiday season. 

The Nordic technology company Computas chose to take this trend one step further and has now proclaimed its self-designed sweater as the ugliest in the world – a sweater that was designed with the aid of artificial intelligence (AI).

“We usually use our expertise in AI and machine learning for more serious tasks. 

“However, this time around, we wanted to test what pattern machine learning would suggest as a so-called ugly Christmas sweater. 

“I think we too are allowed some pre-Christmas joy,” CEO at Computas Trond Eilertsen said, wearing the Christmas sweater with a humorous smile on his face. 

It was in October that a team from Computas started the Christmas sweater project by collecting data.

“We retrieved thousands of Christmas sweater images from the internet, which we then fed through a machine learning service that interpreted and identified the various elements. 

“The goal was to find the components and colors that were most often used, and feed this information into a database,” Simen Selseng, Data Scientist at Computas, noted.

The most common components that the machine learning found included snowmen, snowflakes, and the colors red, green, and blue, to name a few.

“This has never been drawn before”

With the most important elements in place, the team started the work of getting the machine to decide what the elements should look like on the Christmas sweater.

“Basically, the computer doesn’t know anything about Christmas, so we collected examples of what Christmas can look like. 

“We did this through an interactive drawing program called Google QuickDraw. 

“Here, people have created millions of quick drawings of around 300 Christmas motifs, some of which were of the components we found in our preliminary study,” Selseng explained. 

“With this knowledge, the system can draw new sketches of snowmen and snowflakes that look like they’ve been made by humans, but which have never been drawn before,” Selseng added.

“All little elves come come come Christmas night”

No Christmas sweater is complete without a good, Christmas-like text. 

Everything the AI knows comes from the data it has access to. 

Computas, therefore, fed the system with all digitally available Norwegian Christmas song lyrics. 

Based on the grammar and vocabulary of these Christmas songs, the AI naturally ended up generating some pretty weird sentences.

“A bit of the charm here is generating a few new stanzas that a human would not necessarily come up with,” Selseng said. 

The final text that now adorns the front of the sweater? 

“All little elves come come come Christmas night.”

“It makes no sense, but it is a very nice text, even though. I almost feel like humming when reading it,” Selseng added.

Computas, experts in system and application development, deliver solutions to both the public and private sector in Scandinavia. 

Selseng emphasized that Computas would work harder to ensure the quality of the database and train the machine better under normal circumstances.

“But it was important that the sweater and pattern didn’t become too perfect either. It should be an ugly Christmas sweater after all,” he said.

A local Christmas sweater

Not only has the Nordic-developed AI arrived at design elements, shape, and color, it has also generated knitting patterns, which Computas’ own employees have used to knit a prototype. 

The project has helped create a good atmosphere and unity among the employees who are now sitting in their home offices for the tenth straight month.

“This has been a very fun project. Some of our most skilled experts in machine learning and design have made a huge effort to spread a little extra Christmas joy in an otherwise trying time. 

“Christmas sweaters will probably not be an area of focus for Computas in the future, but the brilliant and ugly result shows our love for AI and machine learning,” CEO Eilertsen concluded.

Source: Computas / Norway Today

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