Tuesday 27 December 2022

The case against Art produced by Artificial "Intelligence"

Most of my colleagues in the comics industry seem to be united against the A.I. Apps that are appearing with more frequency. That's art generated by "Artificial Intelligence" if you didn't know already. I stand with my colleagues against this loathsome "development".

Recently I've read a few defences of A.I. from people who think it's the same as art created using digital software such as Photoshop or Clip Studio Paint. It is not. 

No one is arguing against digital software. Photoshop, Clip Studio, Illustrator, and suchlike are tools, and require skills to use effectively. Drawing with a stylus on a graphic pad requires the exact same amount of talent as drawing with ink on paper. In both cases, the creativity stems from the artist and their unique skills. "But what about fonts?" someone asked. True, fonts are ready made to use, (and were made by skillful humans) but they still require a sense of page design to use properly, deciding on the right font, placing it where the dialogue will flow best, and suchlike.

Sure, there are letterers using fonts badly; choosing the wrong size, or using the crossbar "I" in the middle of a word and so on, but that's a learning curve and good editors will have a word with them about it. 

Artificial Intelligence "art" is totally different and requires no skill or talent. Those apps work by a person typing in a "prompt", eg: "Rusty robot fighting angry dinosaur in ruined futuristic city" and the app then quickly scours the Internet to steal images in order to mash up a composition based on the prompt. Yes "steal images", because the A.I. apps just take images they find online without permission, notification, or payment to the original artists.

So, no skill required, and unethical to boot. 

Yes, the A.I. apps are fun to play with and no one is saying people shouldn't dabble for their own amusement, but some "AI creators" are regarding it as true art, and themselves as artists, which is ludicrous. What concerns many of us though is that it's inevitable that some publishers will decide to use AI generated images instead of commissioning artists. Now, no one is against progress, and many artists use technology which is fine (I use Photoshop for colouring for example) but as I said, there's a difference between that sort of technology and those lazy copyright-infringing AI apps.

At the moment, AI is still in its infancy but it will develop. I had a dabble myself, just for the purposes of this article. The result was laughable and ugly. I typed in "Snowman offering a plate of mince pies" and this was what the app generated...

A very unappetising dish of turds on a plate. You'll also notice the dodgy rendering of the snowman and a kind of red tie instead of a scarf because Artificial Intelligence doesn't really have the intelligence to know what it's doing properly. And why did the image crop the top of his head off? Some AI attempts I've seen have been even worse, showing people with multiple fingers on their hands, hats growing halfway out of their heads, dogs with distorted faces, buildings with doors in the wrong place, and so on. This snowman image has even dragged in an artists signature, presumably accidentally, from part of an image it nicked. 

At present, it's hard for AI to create sequential comic strips because the image generators produce something different from panel to panel. That hasn't stopped some people trying though, even though the results look nightmarish and nonsensical.

AI "art" is soulless and will be potentially damaging for any art community. I doubt we can halt its "progress" now (although the copyright issue will be used against it) but we can shout out loudly against it!

If you want a piece of art, find a real artist who has the style you want and commission them. Don't let an app be a poor substitute.



Brendini said...

I think a few, well-aimed, very public cease and desist orders may make the proponents of A.I. stop and consider for a bit.

Lew Stringer said...

I think that's already happened in some cases thankfully.

qamar said...

I've seen some AI art which looks amazing but you can see they lack soul. I expect AI will just get better and as artists we are going to have to adapt.

When 3d animation came out it initially created turmoil in the industry. Many skilled animators who failed to adapt lost their jobs. Same happened with the special effects industry when CGI emerged. But today, all these companies still employ artists for a good reason.

Anyway as Brendini mentioned, once a few of these AI companies are successfully sued for substantial costs, you will see a gold rush of copyright claims and hopefully laws and rules of use can be set.

McSCOTTY said...

Let's hope this is nipped in the bud soon Lew. Despite the US Copyright office recently giving the go ahead to a writer to use AI in a comic book, it looks like this is being revisited . Seemingly in the US it states that to qualify for a work of authorship a work must be created by a human being, works that do not satisfy that criteria are not copyrightable. This was decided following the debate over who owned the picture a monkey took of itself ie the monkey or the owner of the camera!

Lew Stringer said...

There has always been some resistence to technology but previous tech still required humans to deliver the goods. AI requires nothing but a few words tapped into a keyboard. No artistic skills by the tapper, and unlike other tech, the AI steals the work of others to mash up into its own. That's the distinctive differences to any other technology that has preceded it and why AI should be resisted by everyone with a conscience.

Manic Man said...

ugh.. they aren't A.I yet because even with what we laughingly called A.I. in a game, it's not enough to fall under the defination of Intelligence (Speaking as someone who has programmed basic "artificial life" Sims.
The So-called art generators and story ones are just taking bits of other peoples work and mixing it up. There are alot of issues right now because some companies like Google have been stealing code from programmers for 'training' and this has been going back to 2017.. for some reason, alot of people are only taking notice of it of late..

But then, people still think Warhol and Lichtenstein were artist and not just thieves.. oh well.. people are stupid.

Of course, some of this isn't much different from a stupid game called 'Fornight' which stole dance arts from people and the courts in the US said 'you can't copyright part of something' and it isn't stealing even if you name it as a direct reference to where you stole it.. and before that, i think it was the 60s and 70s when alot of magicians started sueing for people ripping off their acts.. Sigh.. things never change..