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The War Against AI Art
"I’ve given up on my dream of being a full time artist..."
Long ago, the artists and non-artists lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when DALLE-2 attacked.
This wasn’t just a toy like previous AI art tools. This was starting to look like real art. It was clearly inferior to humans, but it was getting there.
DALLE-2 was not a replacement for artists, but DALLE-3 might be.
Some artists began to panic immediately.
But their worries were dismissed.
AI wasn’t actually able to be creative. It was much lower quality than a real artist. Best case it would be a tool to augment artists, and worst case it would be useless.
Maybe the AI would be good enough to compete with humans one day. But that day was very far away.
Just kidding. That day was only 4 months after the release of DALLE-2.
In August 2022, an AI art piece won first place in the digital arts competition at the Colorado State Fair.
How was a person typing prompts into Midjourney equivalent to people who worked hard to hone their art skills? Why was AI art even considered for this contest? Should we also allow AI to compete in chess tournaments?
These judges were spitting in the face of artists.
Artists have a wide range of viewpoints on AI art. They disagree on many things. But if there’s one thing they mostly agree on, it’s that they should be asked for consent for their artwork to be part of AI models.
It’s not ethical for a bunch of tech people to profit off of the hard work of artists without asking permission, giving credit, or sharing the profits.
If the roles were reversed, and an artist used a company’s copyrighted material for financial gain, they would be sued out of existence very quickly.
How is it that the same company that made an AI art tool trained on copyrighted works could say this about their AI music tool?
“Dance Diffusion is also built on datasets composed entirely of copyright-free and voluntarily provided music and audio samples. Because diffusion models are prone to memorization and overfitting, releasing a model trained on copyrighted data could potentially result in legal issues. In honoring the intellectual property of artists while also complying to the best of their ability with the often strict copyright standards of the music industry, keeping any kind of copyrighted material out of training data was a must.” (source)
Why is there such a blatant double standard here? Is it just because the music industry is more likely to sue you than artists?
DeviantArt didn’t understand how important this point was to artists, so they learned the hard way.
Our dear little DeviantArt who avoided the NFT hype, and even built tools to protect artists from NFT art theft. Our beloved DeviantArt got caught up in the AI hype and decided to make their own AI art tool using Stable Diffusion.
They added features to protect artists like allowing them to opt-out of having their names used in prompts, and opt-out of having their images in future AI datasets.
They were so close.
But the decision to have people opted-in by default was enough to piss everyone off.
DeviantArt users immediately rose up, started a riot, and got DeviantArt to change the system all in the span of 9 hours.
Artists aren’t asking for anything crazy. They just want to be able to give consent for their work to be part of the AI machine. There’s a simple, ethical way to go about this. Companies could use public domain artwork as their base layer, then they could ask artists for permission to use their work, and even hire artists to make training data.
But instead, the tech startups took the easy path.
“The closer the artist is in touch with his or her inner life, the more painful AI training on their works is.
It takes their inner world and turns it into a lifeless puppet.
This AI has no sense of taste; it can only rehash. While taste is subjective, everyone has taste. Ones own taste is what actually drives art, and is what drives the truth of that inner expression.
I grieve for artists who are trying to make a living in the era of this technology arriving, and I also pity the people who cannot see its problems, because the light of connecting to another soul through art is one of the most beautiful experiences that one can experience.” - /u/deleted
Startups don’t seem to care about ethics, but they do have to follow the law. So the artists filed a class action lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney and DeviantArt on January 13, 2023.
The legal battle continues.
But the battle of the law isn’t as precious as the battle of the heart.
Artists just want to be loved. They just want an ounce of empathy. Can you spare some?
Is it too much to ask you not to make a new AI model based on the work of an artist who just died? You aren’t honoring their legacy with your soulless, hollow remixes of their art. So kindly, gtfo.
The fans would rather look at Kim Jung Gi’s real art. The art with soul. The art with a story. The art with intention. The art with meaning.
Artist: Hey ArtStation, you know how you’re a portfolio website for real artists to showcase their work right?
Artist: So there’s really no reason for you to allow AI art on this site right?
ArtStation: Makes sense to me.
Artist: So can you do something about all these grifters uploading AI generated “reference packs”? And just get rid of all the AI art in general? It’s pretty annoying.
Artist: Well what if we start posting this anti-AI image and flood the entire fucking website with it, making it unusable? Do you think you’ll listen then?
ArtStation: No, but we will start censoring your little protest :)
Being loved would have been nice. Receiving some empathy would have been nice.
But you can live without love and empathy.
You can’t live without money.
Netflix announced their “Dog and Boy” anime on January 31, 2023. It looked very cute. But what was not so cute was their use of AI to generate the backgrounds, citing labor shortages.
“As an experimental effort to help the anime industry, which has a labor shortage, we used image generation technology for the background images of all three-minute video cuts!”
Instead of offering better working conditions, Netflix did what any good business would do, and automated the job away.
Freelance artists are losing their contracts because of AI art tools as well.
And this is only just the beginning.
Artists are scared as hell. And when you’ve been pushed to the brink, and no one will listen, it’s time to start fighting.
The first serious weapon in the war against AI art was launched on March 15, 2023. Glaze is a tool that allows artists to poison their images for AI training, while still having them look good to humans. It’s a trojan horse attack. The AI trains on it, and it becomes worse at generating images in the artist’s style.
This is gearing up to be a long game of cat and mouse. But the artists don’t need to win some ultimate victory against AI technology. They just need to stall long enough for the courts to catch up and make reasonable laws.
You may look at all of this and think that these entitled, whiny, gatekeeping artists don’t matter. They’re just delaying the inevitable and holding back progress.
But first they’ll come for the artists, and you won’t speak up because you’re not an artist. Then the AI will come for your job, and you will have set a deadly precedent.
All of our jobs are fair game for automation by AI. It could happen tomorrow, or a few years from now, or a few decades if it’s something really hard to automate like driving a car. But if human progress continues, then it’s coming.
If you can’t show an ounce of empathy to the artists who are feeling most of the negative effects of AI right now, then don’t be surprised when your job is on the chopping block and there’s no one left to have empathy for you.
Treat the artists how you want to be treated when your job is threatened by AI.
“This is why in the past couple of months I’ve given up on my dream of being a full time artist and even up until yesterday I was still grieving a career I always wanted since childhood and I’m still grieving in a way but I’m slowly coming to terms with it and I’m looking into other jobs I might enjoy.
The most frustrating part of listening to established artists talk about AI and irresponsibility encouraging people not be afraid of it because they’re job is already safe (or at least they assume it is) and the tech bros/pro-AI scabs that heckle people, telling them that their concerns are pathetic and you either join the new wave or get left behind.
The lack of empathy and responsibility is what has hit me the hardest and I know I shouldn’t be surprised because that mentality isn’t new but it’s still hard to choke down” (youtube comment)