Yu Jen Shih
AI Art - The Future of Art or the Death of Art?
The summer of 2022 saw a boom in artificial intelligent art, also known as AI art. The term "artificial intelligence" refers to using systems and machines to perform tasks. In this instance, to perform art.
Although many may be excited by the idea of AI art, just like that of AI copywriting, there is a growing concern of AI as a threat.
These threats include but not limited to the spread of misinformation, fraud, and a negative impact on the art industry.
The Source (Ingres) from Wikipedia
The War of Algorithms
AI art, in its most literal sense, refers to artwork created with artificial intelligence. By using self-learning algorithms, prompt engineering, digital analysis of tens of thousands of paintings, and collaboration with real-life artists.
The first AI art system was developed in the 1960s by Harold Cohen. He is described as the pioneer of computer art, as he created AARON, an AI art system based on GOFAI programming. Albeit intelligent, AARON cannot learn new styles and imagery on its own; instead, Cohen had to code every specifications.
The first color image created by AARON from Chiswick Auctions
For nearly 50 years before we saw the rising traction of digital art, Cohen led the revolution between art and technology. Of course, it is not without criticisms that we can't see today. Many artists argue that AI artists aren't the same as 'real' artists.
What are the things algorithms can we that we humans can't?
Art aims to invoke emotions, convey a message, or portray a concept through creativity and imagination. Hence, we cannot regard AI-generated images as art, despite their visual impressiveness - Andrew Shu
Andrew Shu, a staff writer from Scot Scoop states that AI-generated images aren't considered as art, because these programs function without an artist.
If the definition of art simply indicates our emotional responses and arousals - can't AI art do the same to our emotions? As the field of artificial intelligence was founded based on the assumption that human intelligence was the central exemplar of early automation.
Contemporary AI Art
AI art, despite having been around for sometime, has recently been popularized since OpenAI launched its DALL-E 2 in the summer of 2022. In September, they released access to anyone without any waitlist requirements.
Of course, aside from DALL-E 2 there are a number of platforms that generate AI artwork:
Midjourney was launched in 2022 and currently operates in open beta and uses Discord as its third party server. It creates AI generated art using text description.
One of the most well-known generators is NighCafe, which was founded in 2019. It features AI artwork created using text-to-image technology.
Artbreeder is another tool that uses machine learning to generate AI art with simple shapes and prompts.
AI Art - Future or Death?
AI art opens endless possibilities for a lot of people, yet this technology was met with a lot of criticism, especially after an AI-generated picture received a prize at the Colorado State Fair's fine art competition in September 2022.
Supporters of this new trend argue that AI generated artwork shows how art is evolving, while critics are concerned about how AI art will pose a major threat to artists’ daily bread. Here's a summary of both accounts' on AI art:
AI generated art can create illustrations for books or advertisements in no time flat.
AI generates artwork with endless possibilities and endless imagination.
Creating AI artwork is affordable.
AI generated art creation doesn’t require skills, making people question the essence of art.
Some artists might lose their livelihoods with the advent of AI.
AI artwork is created by AI, not humans nor artists. It is thus not considered art.
Whether you believe that AI art is a threat or not, the role of artificial intelligence is a developing domain that every industry can't resist.
Personally, I think we should neither be too optimistic, nor pessimistic about this new trend. It was just like how we believed in the late 19th century that photography would ruin art, but in turn it coexisted with art and both industries continued to expand in their own ways.