AI-Generated art: What it is and why it’s harmful

By: Bijou Kruszka

Artificial intelligence: a concept that was previously confined to the realm of science fiction. Now, with the rise of programs like ChatGPT, it’s more of a reality than ever before. But what does it have to do with art, and the future of artists everywhere? A lot more than you’d think.

AI art generators are websites that, as their
name would suggest, generate art from simple prompts.
It has the user input a word or short phrase. Then, using
specific algorithms, it analyzes thousands of images and takes elements from each, creating a new “original” image. This process typically lasts about 5 minutes. From broad concepts to ultra-specific characters, AI art can tackle it all. While typically better at abstract landscapes than portraits, some of these outputs are shockingly good. Now, this technology is becoming more readily available.

While AI art generators have technically been in existence for years, they have really risen in popularity recently. With social media trends using AI art generator websites like Wombo Dream and Craiyon, AI-generated art is something that is now much more in the public consciousness. According to Google Trends, interest in the phrase “ai art” significantly spiked in December. Before, it was relatively obscure. Now, it seems everyone has tried these websites themselves. However, its newfound popularity has also created a lot of controversies.

While there is something to be celebrated in this progression of technology, there is also something to be worried about. When artificial intelligence can create art in a range of styles in a very short amount of time, where does that leave humans?

Why pay a human a large sum of money for something that takes hours of hard work when you could just type what you want into a generator online and have it produced 5 minutes later? The human artists were also the ones to create the art that is being analyzed by these robots, but they are given no credit in the final product, nor are they compensated for their art being used. They are stealing from artists, jumbling their pieces together, and trying to claim that it is original.

While the technology has its flaws, often not being able to produce a normal-looking hand or face, it still is dangerous for human artists, especially when these programs improve further. These generators are stealing content and endangering the jobs of all human artists, and will continue to do as it improves its algorithmic skills.

To combat the rising popularity of AI art generators, many artists online have risen. The #NoToAI tag is full of human artists discussing these issues and boycotting the generators, asking others to do the same. By protesting these websites, there is a possibility for change.

So, if you need art and are considering using artificial intelligence, reconsider and commission a human instead.

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