Now and then, a painter like Claude Monet or Pablo Picasso comes along and turns the art world on its head. They invent new aesthetic styles, forging movements such as impressionism or abstract expressionism. But could the next big shake-up be the work of a machine? An artificial intelligence has been developed that produces images in unconventional styles – and much of its output has already been given the thumbs up by members of the public. The team [of researchers] modified a type of algorithm known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), in which two neural nets play off against each other to get better and better results. One creates a solution, the other judges it – and the algorithm loops back and forth until the desired result is reached. In the art AI, one of these roles is played by a generator network, which creates images. The other is played by a discriminator network, which was trained on 81,500 paintings to tell the difference between images we would class as artworks and those we wouldn’t – such as a photo or diagram, say. The discriminator was also trained to distinguish different styles of art, such as rococo or cubism. The clever twist is that the generator is primed to produce an image that the discriminator recognizes as art, but which does not fall into any of the existing styles.