Does AI have a place in the world of art?
Mae Edillon, Contributor
The rise of content produced by artificial intelligence (AI) is challenging the current art landscape and many are asking: is this a good or bad thing?
To say that AI-generated content has exploded recently is a huge understatement. From social media platforms to art sites, AI tools like Dream by Wombo, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, DALL-E 2, Prequel and Lensa make generating works of art easier and faster than ever.
How does this work?
Depending on the software, how the users make these images may vary. Some can generate content simply from a text prompt, while others rely on the user to input their own images. Then they use the data, collected from all corners of the internet, to produce, in theory, something entirely new.
What do people think?
As there was excitement and praise for AI, it also spurred many different controversies from many different groups. From concerns over the privacy of users and their likenesses, to the perpetuation of harmful beauty standards, to pushing the limits of copyright law when it takes and samples artists’ work without their consent or proper credit across the internet. All of these issues shed light on a flawed, unethical and quite problematic side of AI art.
What can be made of this?
For the longest time, I didn’t know what to think. There’s so many moving parts and considerations that it’s not as easy to say whether to embrace or reject AI art. At first I was intrigued by the content that AI was producing as a creative person myself. As I learned more about the workings of the technology and became aware of all of the issues, I became more hesitant.
What I notice seems to be missing in these discussions is why AI-generated content even exists in the first place. Why were these technologies developed? Are the images generated by the AI really art?
AI-generated content is the result of a much larger issue in creative circles. The idea that art needs to be automated is not the fault of the developers, but the industry as a whole. AI art removes labour and, from an objective standpoint, is less costly and more efficient. This attitude separates the human passion and creativity out of art, turning it into consumable content made for profit.
The truth is, AI art is here to stay, but the attitude of industrializing art needs to go. It should not be an alternative medium for genuine human artistry, but a tool to create. Artificial intelligence is already commonplace in digital art programs as tools like a magic eraser, interpolation, magnetic select and content awareness from Adobe. These were never used as a replacement but as an aid to make creation easier.
The problems stemming from how the AI works, where it sources its data and how it retains user information, need to be fixed as well. Currently, there are actions being taken to regulate the use and the development of AI-generated content. There’s lawsuits in the US against OpenAI for the collection of data. Stability AI Ltd., and MidJourney Inc. are also facing legal battles from artists who are suing them for profiting off of the collection of copyrighted images without consent.
History repeats itself
As technology advances and new media comes out, there’s always been pushback. Take photography and digital art for example: during their early days, traditional artists were hesitant and even outright opposed to the new media. Today, both have found a place as valid and respectable art forms.
Since AI art is not going away anytime soon, artists now have a choice. They can learn how to coexist with the new technologies by using it to their advantage, or double down in embracing more traditional art mediums. As for the legal and ethical issues that come with the new technology, there has to be more push in legislation to protect human-made art and copyrighted work.
AI can never replace true appreciation for the arts or replicate the raw skills and experience of a human artist.