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The Problem with AI Art


The Problem with AI Art – A technological innovation but is it a replacement for the real thing? raig O’ Reilly opines…
This year we will very likely see the first artificial intelligence generated short films, lf we haven’t already. I recently saw a short film clip generated entirely by prompts. The technology only needs to be told lines like “penguin on a surfboard,” or “girrafe driving car”, and imagery can be created very quickly.

Although it looks crude right now, if you hadn’t told me it was AI generated I wouldn’t have guessed. Maybe I’d have said it was an old BBC nature documentary intro, kind of dated looking, but I think I’d have imagined an artist created it. It could be something for a new season if reeling in the years.

Which is sort of the problem. While some are excited about the innovations AI can bring to art, there are ramifications which we haven’t quite imagined yet.

For instance if the AI looks over a thousand pre-existing images and melds then together into something new, who gets credit? It can already mix together styles like you’d see in a Studio Ghibli film with Vincent Van Gogh. Tech like Midjourney is able to quickly generate film concept art at the click of a button.

It’s already affecting visual artists who put their work on sites like reddit for feedback. If a users artwork is too “good” they are now getting accused of using AI to generate their work, if not completely then accused of using it as a guide.

For years now there has been expectation developed in the public that technology is linked to progress and that progress is liniar. Those not on board would be labeled ludites and technophobes, not without good reason. To a certain extent technology always has its detractors. But technology is not always linked to progress either. There is no reason why the next major leap forward doesnt create more problems than it solves

At the same time, saying truisms like “people said the same thing about television and the internet” is itself becoming trite and indefensible. It doesn’t matter whether people said the same thing about technology in the past. We could probably do with an honest conversation about just how much general happiness the internet has actually provided. You are left somewhere between “it’s the best thing ever” and “it’s happening anyway and there’s nothing we can do about it”. Not a great place to be.

Never the less, this time round it is certainly going to put people out of jobs. Some argue artificial intelligence in the field of art will open up new jobs, but what kind of jobs?

For years certain advocates have been clamoring for shorter work hours, a four day work week or even universal basic income. The rationale is it will free people up to focus on pursuits like art. Aside from the fact many people have no interest in art, you have to wonder at the irony we are also creating technology that will make the art for us.

You really do have to see some of the work it is able to produce. There are still issues, for instance artificial intelligence seems to have a weird obsession with drawing people with six fingers for example.

But in general, it is able to, and will be able to take the place of what a lot of concept artists do now. It will at least be used for references for CGI in films at first.

Recently, I seen a bot which is also capable of writing whole research papers for college. It’s something you can sit down with and ask questions and it will pool millions of pieces of writing to provide answers. It will even offer multiple opinions. I should probably have asked it if AI will have a positive or negative effect on society, but I don’t quite want to put myself out of a job just yet!

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