In recent weeks, AI apps have gone viral on social media for allowing users to create avatars in the style of various famous artists. However, these powerful new tools are changing not only people’s profile pictures; according to artists and creatives, they could change the face of creative work in permanent and frightening ways, all while raising serious privacy and intellectual property issues.
AI-generated art is suddenly everywhere you look.
Apps like the photo editor Lensa allow users to create “magical avatars” in an almost infinite variety of genres. It has been a huge hit with users: since Lensa launched the avatar feature in November, more than 4 million people have downloaded the app, spending $8 million on internal features, according to WIRED.
But it’s not just photos. Open AI GPT-3 it can produce eerily human-like chunks of writing based on text requests from users.
Big companies like Microsoft and Adobe they are also integrating artificial intelligence tools in their offers.
The prospect of easily accessible tools that can come very close to human artistic production has many creatives worried.
“I am incredibly anxious about the future of my career, more than ever,” artist Kelly McKernan he wrote on Twitter. “Also, I’m concerned about the future of human creativity.”
The art of Ms. McKernan, a painter and illustrator with a cosmic and surreal style, was one of the first tranches of images used to train Stable Diffusion, a popular tool used in AI art apps.
In one thread, the artist described how “at first it was exciting and surreal” to help inform an AI studying the building blocks of creativity, but later it was a journey through the “uncanny valley” when users of Stable Diffusion have begun spitting out close imitations of his work en masse.
Additionally, some of these users have taken to taking images clearly based on Ms. McKernan’s work and using them for their own purposes, commercial and otherwise, hesitating when she requests that her name be removed from images tagged in her style.
“Please do not support the unethical use of AI image generators as thousands of artists are being hacked,” he concluded. “Ask better and please keep talking! If artists can’t defend the use of their names and their artwork, what are we left with?
Beyond the general concerns at work, many in the creative fields are accusing AI of infringing on their intellectual property.
AI models like Stable Diffusion, the basis for Lensa’s magical avatars, and other tools, use huge repositories of publicly available images to train the nuances of different art styles.
As a result, these AI models harvest the stylistic DNA of individual artists, then allow outsiders to borrow elements from their work without offering any credit. Also, because many AI models are prompt-based, this lending process is incredibly straightforward at times.
For example, nearly 100,000 Stable Diffusion users suggested directly naming Greg Rutkowski, a fantasy illustrator who has worked on games like Dungeons & Dragons. The images they create are based on his work, but they can be used for any purpose they wish.
“We could say that, ethically, it’s stealing,” Rutkowski said he told the CBC.
Despite these concerns, AI is such new territory in the legal world that it’s unclear how an artist like Mr. Rutkowski could protect his intellectual property from being sucked into AI models even if he tried.
“I see people on both sides extremely confident in their positions, but the reality is nobody knows,” technologist Andy Baio said The limit. “And anyone who says they know for sure how he’s going to end up in court is wrong.”
Other critics point out how apps like Lensa, trained by what is essentially a sample of the entire internet, amplify the misogynistic and predatory aspects of some corners of the web.
Some users report that AI image generators spit out highly sexualized photos, including nude imageswhen harmless selfies and childhood photos are fed.
Prisma Labs, the company behind Lensa, has defended its app and similar products.
“AI produces unique images based on data-derived principles, but it cannot invent and imagine things on its own,” the company wrote in a Twitter thread. “Because film hasn’t killed theater and accounting software hasn’t eradicated the profession, AI won’t replace performers but it can become a great assistance tool.”
“We also believe that the increasing accessibility of AI-based tools would only make artificial art in its creative excellence more valued and appreciated, since any industrialization brings more value to handcrafted works,” the company added.
Indeed, some in the creative professions have argued that AI is an aid, not a threat, allowing them quick and cheap ways to generate professional-quality images.
“I think there is an element of good design that requires the empathic touch of a human being,” Sabella Orsi, San Francisco-based interior designer, said The New York Times. “So I don’t think it will take my job away. Someone has to discern between the different renderings and ultimately, I think they need a designer.”