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AI In Modern Art: A Curse or a Blessing

Artificial Intelligence — or simply AI — is defined by as the “ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings”.

Despite being coined by the British mathematician Alan Turing in 1950, the term “artificial intelligence” seems to have gained an unprecedented popularity in 2020 to this day. The reason behind the rise in its popularity could be given as the development of GPT-3 and DALL-E by OpenAI, the latest technology in the market.

So, what is OpenAI? OpenAI is an American AI research and deployment company with a mission of “ensuring that artificial intelligence benefits all of humanity”. Their products include Point-E, Whisper, DALL-E 2, and ChatGPT. DALL-E 2 is defined by OpenAI as “an AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language”. It is an upgrade of DALL-E, a system that could generate images from text, which was introduced in January 2021. Following DALL-E; in 2022, DALL-E 2 was introduced, which can generate more realistic and accurate images with four times greater resolution.

Although OpenAI is the most recognized artificial intelligence development company and DALL-E 2 is the most photorealistic AI image generator, there are many alternative websites and apps that can generate images of slightly lower quality for free. One such website is OpenArt which allows users to create AI illustrations within minutes simply by signing up. Since DALL-E 2 requires “credits” purchased by dollars in order to produce images, free alternatives are quite favorable. Aside from OpenArt, Craiyon is also an AI art generator completely free of charge.

However, this unstoppable development in artificial intelligence models is creating a new fear among modern artists: the fear that art generated by AI is becoming a substitute for real-life art. Most AI art generator websites and apps promote their tools as “secret weapons for marketers”, “game developer’s toolbox”, and “inspiration” for artists. This may be true to an extent, but it is also noted that artists are now given the option to use AI as inspiration rather than reaching their full potential by utilizing their own creativity. Is this what AI is aiming for? Giving us all the resources we need to halt our creative flow and render our minds unusable? It is considered to be a far-fetched theory but there has always been the infamous theory that AI will one day replace humanity.

On the other hand, numerous artists view artificial intelligence as a blessing for their art rather than a curse. James Pate is one of the artists who share the view that AI is beneficial rather than harmful to his art. When his opinion on AI was asked, Pate said “I thought it was extremely interesting. I embraced it, I thought of it as a tool, something that I could use as a reference. […] Personally, I don’t feel threatened by it.” As a result, Pate views AI as an inspiration to his art rather than plagiarism and a subsequent threat to his job and livelihood.

Yet the majority of artists do not share the same opinion as Pate. To begin with, many artists find AI unethical and argue that plagiarism is a grave obstacle to its success since their works and styles are being used without knowledge or consent. A social media campaign that is boycotting AI art has been set up by artists under the hashtag #NotoAIArt. Their primary concern is that AI generators are using samples from preexisting art which might have serious consequences involving artists taking action by filing lawsuits. Their secondary concern is that their livelihoods are at risk for the sake of entertainment— they are afraid that people may no longer purchase or support their art since they can generate their own creations with the touch of a button. The debate about the consequences of AI resurfaced when an AI-generated art by Jason M. Allen titled "Théâtre D'opéra Spatial" won an art competition. This has caused outrage among artists and many stated that this marked the end of their career. However, when looked on the bright side, the overtaking of AI-generated art can result in the birth of new careers such as prompt engineering. This has always been the case as many jobs that become outdated get replaced by modern-day jobs, yet the downfall of some careers seems inevitable.

A painting generated by artificial intelligence model Midjourney
Théâtre d'Opéra Spatial

Image credits: Jason M. Allen via Wikipedia

The media shares the view that the disadvantages of AI in the field of art outweigh the advantages it presents. While some artists support these developments, most are against them. The question of whether AI-generated art is a curse or a blessing still remains unanswered due to differing opinions and it will forever remain a topic of debate until a defining moment arrives.

Works Cited:

Britannica- Artificial intelligence

Tableau- What is the history of artificial intelligence

OpenAI- About

OpenAI- DALL-E 2

YouTube- “DALL•E 2 Explained”

Openart Blog- “OpenArt: AI empowers human creativity”

Daytondailynews- ‘ I don’t feel threatened by it’: How Dayton artists react to rise of artificial intelligence”

“‘ It’s the opposite of art’ : why illustrators are furious about AI”- theguardian

Euronews- “From lawsuits to tech hacks: Here’s how artists are fighting back against AI image generation”

Nytimes- “AI- Generated Picture Won an Prize. Artists Aren’t Happy”


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