A grossly misguided app that used AI technology to "digitally undress" women has been taken down by its creator.
After downloading the DeepNude app for $50 (£40), users were able to upload a picture of a clothed woman and have it transformed by the app's algorithm into a fake nude picture.
The app was only designed to make fake female nudes – when a picture of a man was uploaded, DeepNude would still create a naked image with female genitalia.
The app was a new example of s0-called "deepfake porn", a grim internet phenomenon whereby women's heads are artificially grafted onto the bodies of pornographic performers.
Scarlett Johansson spoke out against this practice earlier this year, saying: "Nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image or anyone else’s onto a different body and making it look as eerily realistic as desired. There are basically no rules on the internet because it is an abyss that remains virtually lawless."
The DeepNude app was widely condemned after being written about by tech website Motherboard earlier this week. "Now anyone could find themselves a victim of revenge porn, without ever having taken a nude photo. This tech should not be available to the public," Katelyn Bowden, founder of anti-revenge porn campaign group Badass, told Motherboard.
DeepNude's creator, who goes by the alias "Alberto", has since removed it from the App Store in the wake of the controversy. "We created this project for user's entertainment a few months ago," Alberto wrote in a Twitter statement. "Honestly, the app is not that great, it only works with particular photos. We never thought it would become viral and we would not be able to control the traffic."
Alberto went on to say that "the probability that people will misuse [the app] is too high", adding: "We don't want to make money this way."
However, Alberto concluded the statement in an unsatisfactory and somewhat worrying way by saying: "The world is not yet ready for DeepNude."
There's only one way to respond to this statement: The world should never be ready for an app like DeepNude – and nor should it ever want to be.