A group of TikTokers used AI to guess what the Kardashian family would look like without surgery.
The video led to online hate against the family, as speculative content in this genre often does.
One of the creators told Insider it was never their intention to encourage judgment.
A TikTok video that showed images of the Kardashians reimagined without any beauty enhancements blew up, but the negative response was a shock to the creator, who just wanted to get people more interested in artificial intelligence.
The clip, which received 3.8 million views, was posted by Keith Lee, a 35-year-old content creator from Sydney, Australia, who co-created an entertainment live stream called "vandahoodlive" on multiple social media platforms, where the show's hosts blend their love of technology with conversations about pop culture.
On September 17, the live streamers posted a clip from their show on TikTok, which showed them using AI software to predict what members of the Kardashian family would look like without cosmetic surgery.
Lee told Insider he is extremely passionate about tech and artificial intelligence. He thinks that the latest developments in how AI is being used, from medical advancements to celebrity deepfakes - are "about to get really, really wild," and the group thought that talking about celebrities would be a way to get more viewers interested in artificial intelligence.
"We started playing with some concepts on the show. Simple things first, like seeing what celebrity babies would look like," he said, adding, "then we came up with the idea of what would the Kardashians look like if they never went under the knife. Could we pull something like that off?"
Lee told Insider the group spent a week researching which surgeries each of the celebrities have publicly stated they had and running images of them through multiple AI and editing applications - such as DeepFaceLive, Ebsynth, and FaceTune - to produce an approximation of what they would have looked like without these procedures.
Though Lee told Insider the team made the video purely for "entertainment purposes," and did not intend to insult the Kardashians, he said a handful of commenters reacted to the video with "strong opinions and by wanting to absolutely tear them down."
Some comments on the video began speculating that some of the celebrities have had more work done than others, with some people writing negative remarks. Other users, including some who say they work in the skincare industry, used the video to add their own speculations about how many cosmetic surgeries the celebrities have had.
"People were trying to use this video as something to embarrass them," said Lee, adding, "that wasn't our intention."
Lee told Insider that he wants people to know that his team's AI predictions are "definitely not factual" and were not intended to be used as a basis for people to speculate and express hatred toward the Kardashians.
"Yeah sure, we play with the latest technology, but we're not doctors. We're not professionals, and we're also not trying to hurt anyone's image or anything like that. I think the internet just needs to relax," he said.
Representatives for the Kardashian family did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Videos about plastic surgery often go viral on TikTok, but there are concerns that they violate a celebrity's privacy
The hashtag #plasticsurgery has more than 15 billion views on TikTok, and creators - some of whom are medical professionals - have cultivated large followings by commentating and speculating on cosmetic work involving celebrities, who are often publicly scrutinized for their appearances.
But the genre is not without criticism. In March, American rapper Doja Cat accused YouTube creator Lorry Hill of making up "lies" about her in a video where the YouTuber said she thought the rapper had undergone plastic surgery. Hill subsequently removed the video, saying in a written statement on her YouTube channel, "it is never my intention to hurt anyone."
Dr. Anthony Youn, a practicing plastic surgeon in Detroit who went viral in May for speculating what cosmetic procedures he thinks Johnny Depp and Amber Heard have previously had, told Insider that he is "fully against judging anyone for plastic surgery they've had," even though such videos often lead to online hate and vitriol against the subjects involved.
Youn also said he believes that through exposing cosmetic surgery, he can help people to avoid unrealistic beauty standards. "As a society we've always been interested in whether celebs have plastic surgery," he said. "We are led to believe that they just look as good as they do naturally, so it's refreshing when we find out that maybe they're not so natural after all."
Dr Muneeb Shah, a dermatologist, told Insider last year that while it may be entertaining to speculate, people should be careful about jumping to conclusions about a celebrity's personal life. "It's on us to practice being respectful of and compassionate toward all people and all bodies, always."
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider's Digital Culture team here.