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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Staff Editorial: AI art threatens artists

CREATIVITY OR CRIME This AI-generated piece,“Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,”
won first place at the Colorado State Art Fair.

Blurry transitions, awkward hands, and a dystopian aesthetic have plagued social media for months in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) generated art. While this concept screams “technological revolution,” the logistics behind how AI art is made is unethical and damaging to human creativity. 

   Last year, digital artist James M. Allen claimed first prize at the Colorado State Art Fair with his piece “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial.” The catch was that he used Midjourney, an AI software that creates images based on a short, user-inputted text description. 

   While the prize was only $300, the precedent sparked outrage across the internet. 

   Artists voiced their frustrations on Twitter, such as game designer RJ Palmer, who wrote, “What makes this AI different is that it’s explicitly trained on current working artists.”

   Palmer’s tweet highlights the largest issue with the AI generators: stealing.

   According to BBC, the output of AI systems “are built upon the output of flesh-and-blood creators – their AIs are trained on millions of human-made images.” Essentially, AI uses real people’s art to generate its own, toeing the line between inspiration and imitation.

  The ethics of this process puts into question the validity of computer-generated art. While it is important to note that artists’ styles cannot be copyrighted, the computer generations are far from original.

    “Apps like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney are built by scraping millions of images from the open web, then teaching algorithms to recognize patterns and relationships in those images and generate new ones in the same style,” according to the New York Times.

   While Greg Rutkowski, a fantasy illustrator who has nearly 100,000 AI prompts linked to his name, admits that AI art is “ethically stealing,” there is not much artists can do legally. Reema Selhi, the head of policy at the Design and Artists Copyright Society told BBC, “Artists might be able to claim copyright infringement when an image is scraped from the internet in order to be used to train an AI – although legal experts suggest that such a claim would likely fail.”

   For artists, the new-age technology undermines the most essential aspect of their work. Art captures human emotions and feelings; it highlights the creativity and imagination of the human mind. Using AI art tools strips the raw passion and intimacy that comes with human-made art. 

   In addition, because the AI scours and samples the internet, it often carries the negative sides of the web into its art. According to the Independent, AI art can “amplify the misogyny and predatory aspects of some corners of the web,” with “some users report[ing] AI image generators spitting out highly sexualized photos, including nude pictures, when fed innocuous selfies and childhood photos.”

   While there is no way for artists to completely avoid plagiarism from AI generators – besides not posting any art to the internet- there are still preventative measures that can be taken. One method that the 3D Scan Store recommends is watermarking. While they acknowledged how annoying and disruptive watermarks can be, they also noted that “it may confuse the AI system and cause it to make incorrect predictions or decisions.”

   Viewers can combat AI art by supporting human artists, whether it be purchasing a piece, buying a commission, or simply liking a post. Recognition of the little personal signature can go a long way. 

   Art encapsulates the essence of the human spirit. It shows the progression of creativity, history, and people. Using AI generators takes the heart and soul away from art.

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Staff Editorial: AI art threatens artists