"Art Is Dead Dude" The Rise Of The AI Artists Stirs Debate

AI & Art | @cwbatch | Flipboard

Revolutions in art are not new, but this one, according to some, may be the last.

"Art is dead, man," Jason M. Allen told the New York Times.

Mr. Allen is a winner in the New Digital Artist category at the Colorado State Art Fair.

The winning entry "Spatial Opera House" was created using Midjourney, an artificial intelligence system that allows you to create images by simply entering a few text tokens such as "astronaut on horse".

Many artists were outraged, but Allen was adamant: “It's over. HE wins. People are losing," he told the newspaper.

Mr Allen only won $300 (£262) from the competition but the news was shocking.

Some artists already fear that a new generation of AI-assisted image makers could take over their work and get a free pass on their years of learning their craft.

"This thing wants our work, it's actively resisting the artist," tweeted California-based film and game concept artist RJ Palmer, with over 25,000 likes.

In his tweet, he highlighted how well an artificial intelligence system can mimic a live artist. In one of the investigated cases, AI even tried to reproduce the artist's signature.

The results of these AI systems are impressive, but they are based on the achievements of real creators: their AI has been trained on millions of artificial images.

Stable Diffusion, a recently launched open-source AI image generator, learns from “100,000 gigabytes of images,” compressed files sourced from the Internet, founder Emad Mostak told me.

Mr. Mostak, a computer scientist with a background in technology and finance, describes Stable Diffusion as a "generative search engine."

While Google image search shows pre-existing images, Stable Diffusion shows anything you can imagine.

“This is a holographic moment from Star Trek,” he said.

Art in AI Flash

Artists are always learning from and being influenced by others – as the saying goes, “great artists steal” – but Mr Palmer says AI is not just about finding inspiration in the work of other artists: “It steals their essence directly. "

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And AI can reproduce a style in seconds: "Right now, if an artist wants to copy my style, they can spend a week trying to copy it," Palmer told me.

"This is a person who does one thing for a week. With this machine, you can produce hundreds of these things a week.”

But Mr. Mostak said he wasn't worried about the artist being out of work: the project is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet-like tool, which he noted "doesn't put accountants out of work, I still pay their accountants." .

So what does this say to young artists who are concerned about their future careers, perhaps in illustration or design? "My message to them was, 'Illustration design work is so boring'. It's not about being artistic, you're the instrument."

He challenged them to find opportunities using new technologies: “This is an industry that will grow rapidly. Make money in this sector, if you want to make money, it will be a lot more fun.”

And there are already artists using artificial intelligence to inspire and make money.

OpenAI claims that their DALL-E artificial intelligence system is used by over 3,000 artists from over 118 countries.

There are also graphic novels created using AI. The author of one of them defined technology as "a collaborator capable of exciting and surprising in the creative process."

But despite strong outrage over how AI is using artists' work, experts say the legal challenges could be complicated.

Professor Lionel Bentley, director of the Center for Intellectual Property and Information Law at the University of Cambridge, said that in the UK "generally, using someone else's style is not copyright infringement".

Professor Bentley told me that the artist must demonstrate that the AI ​​output reproduced much of their original creative expression in the specific piece used to train the AI.

Even if it were possible, not many artists have the means to wage such legal battles.

This is the Designers and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), which collects payments on behalf of artists for the use of their images.

I asked Reema Selhi, head of policy at DACS, whether artists' livelihoods are at risk. "Of course I do," he said.

DACS is not against the use of AI in art, but Selhi wants artists whose work is used by AI paint systems to make money to be fairly compensated and have control over how the paint is used in the work. theirs.

"There is no protection for artists [...] to identify the works used in the database and reject them," he added.

Artists can claim copyright infringement when images are taken from the Internet for AI training, though lawyers I spoke to suggested a number of reasons why these claims could be dismissed.

And Selhi said proposed changes to UK law would make it easier for AI companies to legally remove artists' work from the internet, which DACS opposes.

Mr. Mostak said he understands the artist's fear and frustration, stressing that "you can see it in the photos as well."

He said the project is working with "technology leaders to create a mechanism where artists can upload their portfolios and request that their styles not be used in online services that use these and similar technologies."

False, pornographic and profound prejudice

Google has previously created an AI that can create images from text commands. Called Imagen, it was never open to experimentation because of the "potential risk of abuse."

Google warns that datasets of scratched images used for AI training often contain pornographic material, reflect social stereotypes and contain "derogatory or harmful associations with marginalized groups of people".

Techcrunch recently reported on concerns that Stable Diffusion could be used to create non-consensual pornography, so-called deepfakes, and other problematic images.

Mr. Mostak said such unethical use "violates the terms of the license." And he says the software is already filtering out attempts to create images that aren't safe to work with, even if a tech-savvy person can handle it.

But the onus, he says, falls "on the people who do something illegal" and other existing tools can also be abused, such as using "Photoshop's compositing tool to reveal someone's head".

Art or slime?

Sci-fi artist Simon Stålenhag tweeted that AI art revealed "a sort of derivative of the sludge created by... the masters of our new technologies hope to feed us."

And there are many big names associated with technological developments. The "king of technology" Elon Musk himself is a supporter of OpenAI.

Far from being "derived materials", they say DALL-E supports human creativity and creates "unique and original images like never before".

For a final opinion, I called contemporary artist and TV presenter Bob-and-Robert-Smith (the name belongs to only one artist).

He has worked in major galleries and will head the art buying department at London's Tate Modern in October.

He mostly works with old-school physical media, but thinks artificial intelligence could be an interesting art field in the mashup tradition.

But politicians, he says, need to set the right rules "so that no one feels cheated" and money is not just pumped into the pockets of big corporations by artists.

You can read more about artificial intelligence and other stories on the BBC Tech Tent podcast.