The recent craze for creating images using artificial intelligence (AI) software like Midjourney and Dall-E has taken over the internet.
Even people with no knowledge of art can create decent AI-generated art just by giving a few specific commands and whatever they have in mind, no matter how wild or vague, and voila play ! AI robots create a set of images. With these AI systems, it is now possible. People can create realistic images of people, landscapes, or anything that can be imagined.
Now, what is an AI-generated artwork? According to Artland magazine, AI-generated art describes art created by a computer or machine learning algorithm, as opposed to a human. Art created using artificial intelligence may include images or sculptures generated based on textual description.
Artificial intelligence has come a long way in recent years. Recently, multimodal learning, such as text-image synthesis and contrastive image-text learning, has transformed the technology community and generated wide public interest. Specifically, AI software has been used successfully for creative image generation and editing applications, such as MidJourney and Dall-E.
On October 25, 2018, the first AI-generated portrait for 432,500 USD, titled “Portrait of Edmond Bellamy”, launched a new era where artists had to rethink their way of life.
The AI artwork sold for nearly 45 times its high estimate, making Christie’s the first auction house to feature an artwork created by an algorithm.
And now, in 2022, we see Dall-E and MidJourney taking the internet by storm. AI can create complex images that humans would take hours or days to complete in seconds. And it doesn’t take a lot of technical know-how to develop top-notch artwork because the writer himself, although he has no knowledge of digital arts, created these images at the MidJourney AI helps by just giving a few prompts and commands.
Now might be a good time to ask, “Is this the end of digital artists?”
With the advent of AI, the artist as an operator becomes an official of a system, and it is a system that no longer depends solely on this individual to exist. Although the early application of a new tool in a pre-existing condition may improve or favorably change some of the terms of that condition over time, the entire program will be adapted to serve the capacity of the tools.
With the tool’s ever-increasing capabilities, a completely different condition has manifested itself in digital technology. So, in the near future, the artist as an operator becomes a tool of a system, and it is a system that no longer depends solely on this artist to create art.
However, this issue could be many years away as AI imaging technology is still in its infancy. So, for now, there is nothing to worry about, as huge amounts of computing power are needed to train AI illustrators on huge datasets. This acts as a limiting factor, allowing only the biggest tech conglomerates with deep pockets in the race to develop the technology.
Also, humans still have the edge over AI, because by removing repetitive tasks, human ingenuity can take firm control, which AI has no chance of replacing in its current form. This contributes to their productivity, freeing up time to explore original ideas.
The creative industry will nevertheless be affected by these developments. The amount of work and deadlines set by clients will change as the artistic process becomes more efficient.
So expecting software, instead of a human, to create a bespoke masterpiece is still a long way off. Currently, AI art lacks humanity, dignity, honor and originality, so much so that even the best efforts of today’s AI technology will not come close to “true art”.
Marcus du Sautoy, an Oxford mathematician, argues that we should see the relationship between AI and humans as both adversarial and collaborative. He thinks AI can get creative humans out of their usual ruts and inspire them to think in new directions.
In this sense, artificial intelligence can give artists new tools to work with and, in this sense, radically shape the industry. Like digital painting that has taken over traditional media like watercolor and oil paint. Artists must adapt to the increase in technology.
But the “artist” itself can never be replaced by AI. Once we understand the role of the artist, we will understand why artificial intelligence will never be a threat. The role of the artist is to communicate a life experience. The only entity capable of doing this is humans.