By Charles Morgan for CoinWeek …..
AI software has been discussed quite a bit in recent months. Potential applications range from the frivolous to bringing about human extinction. It’s hard to separate facts from hyperbole right now, so I set out to test its understanding of numismatics. I spent an afternoon using the AI service Jasper to create lifelike images of coins both real and imaged.
Here are the best (and worst) results.
The 2040 Cent
Prompt: Create an 8k photorealistic photograph of a one-cent coin from 2040. The coin can feature a famous American statesman in profile along with the mottos “IN GOD WE TRUST”, “LIBERTY”, and “2040” on the obverse and is made with a holographic, translucent material. The coin is circular.
The resulting image of a futuristic United States cent featured a first for the denomination – a reeded edge. Even though the AI was allowed to depict a “famous American statesman”, it chose to illustrate a modified Abraham Lincoln based on Victor David Brenner’s iconic design. The only legible inscription is the word CENT. LIBERTY is botched, as is the date. The prompt also called for a holographic image.
The future “Congress” thought better of the added expense, I suppose.
An Updated Small Dollar Coin
Prompt: Create a photorealistic design for a new United States coin to replace the dollar. Your artistic direction should incorporate key American symbols and values, such as “freedom, liberty, and justice for all.” Choose a medium capable of extreme detail, like laser etching, to bring intricate designs to life.
The AI created a dollar-like illustration with a reeded edge and decided to use the Statue of Liberty to depict “American symbols and values, such as freedom, liberty, and justice for all.” No offense, but of all of the depictions of Liberty ever conceived, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s is not the one I’d prefer to see on everything for time immemorial.
I reprompted the AI and asked for a do-over and specifically told it not to use the Statue of Liberty in the design.
The AI had other intentions. I do appreciate the way Liberty is staring me down; she knows what’s going on.
A Pile of Vintage American Coins
Prompt: Depict a pile of vintage American coins, depicting real coin designs from the 1800s and early 1900s. Use photographic techniques to make the coins look ultra-realistic.
As realistic as I tried to make the images through the use of menus and prompts, the illustrations always seem to have a cartoonish look. In this illustration, none of the coins exhibit any signs of wear. Some are misshapen, and none of them resemble genuine American coins. As far as machine learning goes, this AI is not “learning” from the millions of coin images that have been posted online.
NGC-Graded Morgan Dollar
Prompt: Take a photograph of an NGC-graded Morgan dollar.
With this illustration, Jasper is getting closer to a passable image of an actual coin. Liberty is more-or-less derived from George T. Morgan’s design, although it is not a faithful recreation. E PLURIBUS UNUM has been replaced by a nonsense inscription. The 7×6 star configuration has been replaced by a 7×7. The date, which resembles 1912, is not a year when the coin was actually produced.
The holder grasps the concept of an NGC gasket and depicts a realistic color for the plastic. It leaves out some key information, though.
Prompt: coin collecting
For our final image, we asked the AI to depict “coin collecting”.
We like the image’s a smiling younger person showing off a prized coin. We dislike the AI’s total mangling of the human hand. The coin AI guy shows us is a nonsense issue likely derived from Adolph Weinman’s Liberty Walking design. The stacks of coins appear to have lettered edges, which is a neat touch. There’s no way we could publish an image like this outside of the context of this article, so the practical use of AI-generated “coin collecting” is probably zero.
Jasper AI Doesn’t Understand Numismatics… Yet
Our casual experiment didn’t yield much in the way of breathtaking results. None of the images could pass as real, and the software’s understanding of the scientific concepts of numismatics aren’t on par with that of a beginner-level collector.
But this is just the beginning. If AI gets better and goes beyond the novelty phase, then the governments of the world will need to have safeguards in place against the malicious uses of machine learning and collectors might want to look out as the image of the coin they are looking at might not be real.