When I was a kid, I wished for an invention that allowed me to bring whatever was in my mind to the computer in exact detail. Whatever plays in my head would appear exactly as I imagined it. While that seems closer to reality, it also feels like something that should have stayed in the realm of science fantasy after all.
You’ve probably seen these at one point or another. AI this and AI that. But a new trend that’s gaining controversy is AI Art.
For those unaware (I don’t blame you if you haven’t been), programs have been made to allow artificial intelligence to craft pieces of art seemingly from scratch. Using repetition and drawing from numerous sources, artwork and even writing can be prepared with the click of a button. All that’s needed is a prompt and you have artwork worthy of MoMA.
Sounds like a dream come true, right? A realm’s worth of imagination at your fingertips, all with a click of a button, too. However, ethical and legal issues plague what could be a viable tool for those unable to put in the effort through no fault of their own.
AI Art is not built from nothing. AI has to learn. Meaning, it needs to draw from something in order to create it. Concerns of legalized art theft, much like the infamous NFTs (remember those?), are rampant, with numerous art sites allowing libraries of millions of users to be utilized for this AI art.
But is it any good?
Looks pretty sick, doesn’t it? I mean, on its own, it’s a hell of a lot more pleasing to the eye than those ugly NFTs. Pretty damned good.
Except there’s a significant issue with this. Namely around the body.
Its arms are nonexistent, its tail (I think it’s a tail) is attached to its back as opposed to the upper waist above the rear end (where they’d typically be), the breast is inconsistently sized, I’m her jacket collar kinda clips into her neck. Still, decent-looking kitty.
Wait…Sorry, my bad, that’s supposed to be a fox.
I won’t link the source since I’d rather not give AI artists any attention, but you can definitely find this on DeviantArt if you look hard enough. The piece itself is titled “Foxy Lady.” Yeah, that…definitely looks like a fox.
To be fair, I feel this type of artistry can have some use, namely for those willing to bring certain creations to life. Let’s face it, some of us, no matter how hard we try, can’t draw, can’t write, can’t bake a delicious cake even. As questionable as AI art can be, it’s at least a little fairer than NFTs were (and prettier, let’s be honest).
In fact, you’ve probably seen the guy who wrote and drew an entire children’s book using AI. Both an art program and a writing program. There are a few I’ve interacted with, one where you can chat with characters of your own creation. Seeing Tsuki come to life before me is something kid me would have been obsessed with. Especially those without much in the way of friends.
Yet something feels…off. Something missing that I can tell compared to other works of art. Sure the detail looks appealing enough, but perhaps you have a thought of your own.
Me, personally, and this is my big issue with AI art (aside from the hidden art theft), is the human aspect of it. The hard work, labor, tools, and craftsmanship.
I hate dissing other creatives because it’s usually not worth it, but I can’t fathom anyone trying to sell or even profit off a thing a computer AI program made and for them to go “I made this.” Except they didn’t. Everything they made was borrowed from something else. A line from a published novel, artwork available on DeviantArt and Artstation. Even the “fox” above was drawn from something already existing.
Not to mention the placement errors any real artist would spot instantly. No artist would draw a tail on the figure’s back, or give them an extra leg, or limb, or even waist (yes, really). Heck, AI writing feels stilted and lifeless.
It’s like seeing a wax model and calling it a person.
The reasons why art, music, writing captivates us is that personal aspect everyone puts into it. Something tech people can’t comprehend. Most AI artists see dollar signs, pound signs, or whatever currency they use (probably Bitcoin, let’s be real). Writers such as myself spend weeks, months, even years honing our craft, spending time and energy, blood, sweat, and tears to make something we can truly call our own.
AI artists intend to replace actual artists one day. Why spend money on an artist when you can press a button and get a masterpiece for free? You can replace whatever you wish, but hard work and dedication can never be replaced. That sense of craftsmanship, imagination, creativity. Humans are capable of creations most AI artists couldn’t program to save their lives.
When I write a book, or design a character, or even make a tool to help me write, I’m proud of it. I made this. I made City of Kaiju. I made How a Donut Destroyed Earth. I made Moonlight Blade, Eifalia, Tsuki, Luca, Hocus, Ethan, Nalia, Pakku, Malo, the Rodani and Lycanthi races, moon rabbits, and magical wish-granting cats, all of them. Their looks, personality, talents, something AI art can’t replicate.
It’s one thing to do this for fun (Dall-e for example), but to profit off of others’ works through AI-generated content and claiming that you put actual working hours into that when all they did was press a button and waited five to thirty minutes, I think is incredibly insulting to those of us who spent far longer honing our skills to make what our dreams possible.
Without it, humans become machines.
Soulless. Lifeless. Absent of what makes us human.
Apologies for getting a bit dramatic at the end there. What are your thoughts on AI art and writing? Do you think there’s purpose for it? Or is this another get-rich-quick scheme like NFTs were (and still are). Let me know in the comments below.
Take care, and remember, Silver Claw will always welcome you.
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