By Dominic Furer
With artificial intelligence (AI) on the rise and technology enhancing this phenomenon at an accelerating rate, it’s inevitable that its capabilities progress faster than some of us can keep up with.
AI can now talk to people, write stories and even create entirely fabricated artwork in seconds. Naturally, people have lots to say about this new advancement and what it could mean for the art world.
AI generated artwork has existed for longer than people think. In 1973, Harold Cohen began work on the first known image-generating artificial intelligence program. This AI, known as AARON, would be considered primitive in our present technological world, but was considered groundbreaking in its time, as noted in a 2016 article by Chris Garcia, “Harold Cohen and AARON — A 40-Year Collaboration,” which can be found at www.computerhistory.org
In essence, AI art is a rule based generation of images using mathematical patterns and algorithms. The AI references sources with existing images across the internet, learning techniques and training through exposure to human-made art.
Naturally, the rising popularity of what some even call “the future of art” comes with expected complications. In particular, many artists are concerned about the method by which AI programs source their referenced material.
According to www.fairlicensing.com, “AI image generators use two neural networks. The first neural network creates the image, and the second evaluates how accurate it is compared to a real image (based on real examples from the internet). Once the image accuracy assessment is complete, the data is sent back to the original artificial intelligence system.” This implies that AI references real human-made work to base its images off.
Many artists are upset, because they did not consent to having their images used in this way. This may especially be at issue if anyone, programmers or users, generate money from an AI program.
“There’s no question that AI-generated art devalues illustration,” Rob Biddulph, an accomplished children’s book author, was quoted in a recent article in The Guardian. “People will, of course, begin to think that their ‘work’ is as valid as that created by someone who has spent a career making art. It’s nonsense, of course. I can use my iPhone to take a nice picture of my daughters, but I’m not Irving Penn.”
Nobody denies that art is an incredibly abstract concept, one that has developed throughout the ages. Is it possible for artificially generated images to one day be considered an art form? Only time will tell what the future of this practice will look like, and how it will affect the artistic world.