In recent weeks, artificial intelligence apps have gone viral on social media for allowing users to create avatars in the style of various famous artists. However, these powerful new tools are changing more than people’s profile pictures; according to artists and creatives, they can permanently and frighteningly change the face of creative work, while raising serious privacy and intellectual property issues.
AI-generated art is suddenly everywhere you look.
Apps like the Lensa photo editor allow users to create “magical avatars” in an almost endless variety of genres. It’s been a huge hit with users: since Lensa launched the avatar feature in November, more than 4 million people have downloaded the app, spend $8 million on internal features, according WIRED.
But it’s not just pictures. Open AI GPT-3 can produce strangely human-like writing based on text prompts from users.
Big companies like Microsoft and Adobe also integrate AI tools in their offers.
The prospect of easily accessible tools that can closely approximate human artistic production worries many creatives.
“I’m incredibly anxious for the future of my career, more than ever before,” artist Kelly McKernan wrote on Twitter. “Furthermore, I am concerned about the future of human creativity.”
The art of Ms. McKernan, a painter and illustrator with a cosmic and surreal style, was one of the first slices of images used to form Stable Diffusion, a popular tool used in AI art applications.
In a thread, the artist described how “at first it was exciting and surreal” to help inform an AI studying the building blocks of creativity, but later it was a journey through the “valley weird” when Stable Diffusion users started spitting out close imitations of his work en masse.
Additionally, some of these users began taking images clearly based on Ms. McKernan’s work and using them for their own purposes, commercial and otherwise, balking when she requested that her name be removed from images tagged in her style. .
“Please don’t support the unethical use of AI image generators while thousands of artists are being violated,” she concluded. “Demand better, and please keep talking!” If artists can’t defend the use of their names and works, what are we left with? »
Beyond general work concerns, many people in creative fields accuse AI of violating their intellectual property.
AI models like Stable Diffusion, the base of Lensa’s magical avatars, and other tools, use huge caches of publicly available images to train themselves in the nuances of different art styles.
As a result, these AI models harvest stylistic DNA from individual artists, then allow outsiders to borrow elements of their work without offering any credit. Also, because many AI models are prompt-based, this borrowing process is sometimes incredibly straightforward.
For example, nearly 100,000 Stable Diffusion users have prompts directly naming Greg Rutkowski, a fantastic illustrator who’s worked on games like Dungeons & Dragons. The images they create are based on his work, but can be used for any purpose they wish.
“You could say that, ethically, it’s theft,” Mr Rutkowski said. told the CBC.
Despite these concerns, AI is such new territory in the legal world that it’s hard to know how an artist like Mr. Rutkowski could protect his intellectual property against AI models, even if he tried.
“I see people on both sides extremely confident in their positions, but the reality is nobody knows that,” said technologist Andy Baio. Told The edge. “And anyone who says they know with confidence how it will play out in court is wrong.”
Other critics point out how apps like Lensa, formed from what is essentially a cross section of the entire internet, amplify the misogyny and predatory aspects of certain corners of the web.
Some users are reporting AI image generators spitting out highly sexualized photos, including nude pictureswhen fed with innocuous selfies and childhood photos.
Prisma Labs, the company behind Lensa, defended its app and similar products.
“AI produces unique images based on data-derived principles, but it cannot design and imagine things on its own,” the company wrote in a Twitter thread. “As cinema did not kill theater and accounting software did not eradicate the profession, AI will not replace artists but can become a great support tool.”
“We also believe that the increasing accessibility of AI-powered tools would only make man-made art in its creative excellence more valued and appreciated, as any industrialization brings more value to handcrafted works,” said added the company.
Indeed, some creative professions have claimed that AI is a help, not a threat, allowing them to quickly and inexpensively generate professional-quality images.
“I think there’s an element of good design that requires the empathetic touch of a human,” said Sabella Orsi, a San Francisco-based interior designer. Told The New York Times. “So I don’t feel like it’s going to take my job away from me. Someone has to discern between the different renders, and ultimately I think that needs a designer.