Why This Online Archivist Doesn't Care Much About AI-Generated Art

Why This Online Archivist Doesn’t Care Much About AI-Generated Art

The rise of creative machines – AI routines capable of generating original images in response to simple descriptions of the desired image – is not something to be feared, according to a longtime expert in digital culture .

“I’m no more afraid of this than I am of the filler tool,” Jason Scott said during a talk at the Atlantic Festival.(Opens in a new window) in Washington, comparing AI image generators like DALL-E 2 and Stable Diffusion to Adobe Photoshop features. “Or the clone brush.”

Scott, Archivist and Curator at Internet Archive(Opens in a new window), offered audiences a slideshow of AI illustrations drawn for requests such as “a lion using a laptop, in the style of an old tapestry” or “Godzilla signing the Declaration of Independence” . The results generated by these tools, all trained on vast databases of published art, both looked silly and showed a wonderful level of detail.

Later, he held a live demonstration of DALL-E. He skillfully answered a request for “the moment the dinosaurs died out, in the style of Art Nouveau”, but the images he generated for “people at the Atlantic Festival having fun, in the style of Edward Hopper” rather evoked yacht rock. of a lecture from a Washington magazine.

“I can’t get mad at this toy,” Scott told his onstage interviewer, Atlantic Adrienne LaFrance, editor-in-chief, warns a moment later that “this toy will not remain neutral”.

His concern is not that these tools stifle human creativity or put human artists out of work, though he cited examples of people using AI image generators for such repetitive real-world tasks as creating. of textures for video games.

Instead, Scott fears that the current AI angst will lead to a repeat of past examples of remix-based art creators being at least looked down upon by industry gatekeeper types, at worst. finding themselves on the wrong side of copyright litigation.

“It’s also like sampling,” he said, noting that he’s already seeing services that can tell artists if any of their published work has been ingested by the machine learning model. an AI image generator. “Some communities say we don’t want any of that here,” Scott said. For example, last week Getty Images banned the downloading and selling of AI-created images.(Opens in a new window).

In a conversation after his speech, Scott expanded on these themes.

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“It’s purely a tool,” he said after scouring a wide range of Discord channels for AI creation tool Midjourney.(Opens in a new window) on his phone. But, he added, it’s not like other artistic tools in that it needs fuel, in the form of those vast databases of training images: “A pencil needs of graphite, but it does not need previously drawn images to draw.

Scott suggested that clients determined to prevent AI art could impose a proof-of-work requirement: “You could possibly have a case where an artist has a camera on top of their drawing board and they have to show the five middle drawings when he submits a drawing to a company before the company pays them real money.”

Then he offered a sales pitch from the future to a hypothetical artist wanting to make non-synthetic image-making part of his personal brand: “Don’t panic, organic is here.”

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