One of the biggest buzzwords right now is AI. You’ve probably thought to yourself: what is AI, how will it affect our lives, what is it changing, and will it take over? Let’s have a chat about ChatGPT, DALL-E, MidJourney, and many other AI platforms that seem to be swarming our lives and how they might alter the art and design industry.
Let’s start with the basics: What is AI? AI stands for Artificial intelligence. Simply put, it is using computers to do tasks that mimic human intelligence. AI can achieve this human-level intelligence through the reference data it compiles. From that data, it recognizes patterns, among other things, to create an original output (1). AI has been around for decades but recently opened chat platforms to the public. These platforms can write stories, plan trips, have conversations, create art, and design rooms, among countless other things.
How does it create art? It can be as simple as applying a filter over an image to more complex tasks of generating a new image. While that means AI is fully capable of creating its own original content, it must use references, which is where things get tricky. When it comes to artwork, many references are being used by AI that artists did not give permission for use, creating copyright issues. Making AI-created art ethically questionable. Not cool, AI, not cool.
The Machine vs. Man
While AI can harm an artist with copyright issues, it can greatly improve an artist’s or designer’s process. Artists can use AI to aid in creating images quicker, which allows more time for content creation or experimentation. Designers can use AI integrated into programs to simplify their repetitive design tasks. This intelligence is merely another tool in the toolkit for creatives, but there is still hesitation. I like to compare AI to the invention of the camera. The camera was a major technological change that many artists were initially dismissive of. As realistic artwork was no longer solely achievable by the human hand, painters were allowed to explore what art could be. The camera helped enhance and develop the art world entirely, allowing abstract art to progress. This device also made a new form of art accessible to all. In the same way, AI will make a new form of artwork accessible to all.
Man vs. The Machine
Remember how AI uses reference images to create new content? Think about where those references come from… Human-created content. New art and design styles are produced regularly by humans. If people were to stop creating, computers would stop receiving new references. In turn, there would be no progression in computer-generated artwork or design. The entire art scene would turn stale. This would not bode well for a society that thrives off anticipating the next big thing. Another advantage for artists over AI is one of the biggest components that make humans human – emotions. A computer lacks emotion. In return, its designs lack emotion. It is hard to mimic the depth and soul a person can put into their work that a viewer can feel. Often, people have a connection to art or design that cannot be explained. It is only felt. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? AI relies on the user’s words or uploaded reference images to create its output. Nobody wants to type a thousand words or obtain the perfect reference image when they can pick up a paper and pen to illustrate an idea instantly (or pay someone else to). For non-creatives, finding the appropriate words or images to depict your idea is quite cumbersome. If you are a creative person, you know that the first idea is never the final idea. This adds another layer of challenge when relying on a computer.
One more simple, yet fatal (and comical) flaw of AI – hands. A well-known issue with AI images is the lack of accuracy when depicting human hands. AI will add the wrong digits or misplace a hand, which shows the level of complexity the program lacks.
Now, you might still be wondering… will AI kill the art and design community? My opinion – No. Though, I do think it will change our current definition of art. I’m not sure how. I don’t think anybody does, but that’s okay. What I do know is this: humans cannot beat technology. It is a part of human evolution and advancement to develop new technology. Nobody wants to be the same as they were 10 years ago. The level of technology that AI is capable of is just another stepping stone in our advancement. Just as we have before, all we can do now is adapt and change with it. In the meantime, keep your creative mind brewing and watch for some unusual hands.
Are you interested in testing your skills of spotting AI generated content? Try this game: