As I was musing over this topic, a current movie that my fiance and I had seen recently came to my mind and seemed to be a perfect lead into what I was discussing today. I will be discussing AI and its effect on the Art World and how it will affect artists.
If you haven’t seen “Uncharted” yet, you might want to check it out. Especially if you like suspenseful heist and treasure-seeking movies.
The topic of how Artificial Intelligence and how it affects the world is very vital today. However, I think it is really important to dig a little deeper and discuss how this butts up against art in its truest form and those artists that pursue it.
AI Art -What’s the Big Deal?
In December 2022, a program called Lensa AI became all the rage. It takes original images that you already have and turns them into something new and interesting. It was certainly not the first time AI was used to create art, but it certainly has been one of the more notable examples as of late.
Here’s the thing, without input, there is not anything AI can use to create your picture. It requires programmed information to adapt your image. The same way a program like ChatGPT creates a thesis.
There is some controversy as to the ethics and philosophy behind this whole process. What does AI do to generate all of its amazing finished products? Is this a real-life art heist?
In the case of Lensa, they use a process called a Stable Diffusion Model which means they take information from sources and morph them into what they call a novel image. Technically, the image is original, but it uses nothing original to get there. That’s where this gets ethically sticky.
You see Lensa draws from an open source well of information called LAION-5B. This well is a compilation of image information collected from the web that gives programs like Lensa inspiration for its final images. The rub is, not everyone agrees to have their work thrown in this well.
Oftentimes, without reading the privacy policies that appear when we sign up for some new program, app, or page, we get our projects hijacked and thrown into this well.
Is it technically an artist’s fault that they signed up for this? Yes. Did Lensa create the LAION-5B technology that uses the art of artists without first asking them? No. However, Lensa does use the technology and I am pretty certain they know exactly what is happening with it. This means any money they are making from a person who uses their technology isn’t going to the artists who unknowingly contributed to it.
If you remember Napster, popular in the early 2000s, people had to deal with the same similar issues of ethics. Music was used by folks without paying royalties to musicians and artists for the use of their work. There were some serious ethical concerns. However, because of the technology, programs like Spotify might have not become what it is.
I want you to understand that I am not here to steer you in a direction, I am laying what I know out there and letting you decide. There are concerns as to the ethical uses of many technologies. As an artist, I try hard to avoid using material unless I have purchased it, or created it. I wouldn’t want people using my work without my permission.
I will also say some options seem to be more ethically rooted. Adobe, for instance, is very clear about where AI is trained with their Firefly Project. The same is true with Photoshop and its other programs. They will tell you that their artificial intelligence is trained by using Adobe stock and their other projects. When you opt-in it is all laid out in the agreement. I have always found them to be very straightforward. That’s why I don’t mind giving them business.
I am saying that it is very important that you read the privacy statements of any app or program you use. You don’t know what deals have been made with other companies, or countries unless you read the statements.
You Are Fresh Meat
The problem is, when you use an app they aren’t always forthcoming about where your information goes. A company like Lensa might eliminate your original images once they use them. However, there’s a thin line between where they use the images they make.
You and your data are fresh meat! What I mean is, real personal data is a prime commodity when you are using the Web. Your private information is yours until you give someone information to use it.
Companies should be listing where they use your input user data or shopping history when you sign up for their apps. However, how often do you read the privacy policies or the permissions requests when they come across your computer screen or phone? See, that’s where they get ya!
Doing The Right Thing
When you are wanting something special created for yourself or your business the ideal option is to use a local artist. Is it going to cost you more? Maybe, but you also have the peace of mind of knowing that you have something that is original and wasn’t made using someone else’s hard-earned work that they weren’t recognized or paid for. There is something unique about having a Photographer or Creative Specialist do work especially for you.
Commission a local artist, or maybe even watch Twitter or other social media looking for folks that do original work. In the long run, you are doing two things to help small original artists. First, you have utilized local talent which helps them financially and gives you both something to be proud of. Next, you haven’t used a technology that is created on the backs of people who unwittingly, for the most part, had their work stolen to train AI.
There are uses of AI that are very beneficial. AI in editing is utilized in many ways. Adobe editing products don’t use the exterior open-source options to submit for training AI. It has its purpose; I am simply putting facts out there for you to have as a resource.
I know that may have been a lot to unpack in a short time. I do commission work at DDM Creative and Dirk D Myers Photography and I would love to hear from you if you are considering having Digital Art or unique shots taken. I also welcome feedback here or anywhere on social media that you see this piece. Art heists are cool in movies, but in the real world, they really aren’t as cool as they look on the big screen.
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