Why I’m Done Using And Boosting AI Art


Let’s just put it out there and up front — earlier, I was glad to play around with AI art, but that has ended. I have no intention at present of mucking around with AI art, signal-boosting it, or supporting it. I had a subscription to Midjourney, and I canceled it.

Now, to rewind a little —

I think AI art is pretty cool.

I know, I know — I just said, but I won’t support it, and that’s true.

But I think it’s neat, in a general sense. It’s like, we can make COMPUTER ROBOT GHOSTS do all kinds of cool things for us — they can tell us the weather, show us how to get to the mall, I can yell at my car to turn on the heat and it’ll totally do it, Gmail can already predict the response I’m going to make and start to prep it for me. The robot ghosts are cool. So, the ability to say, HEY ROBOT GHOST, SHOW ME WEREWOLF PIKACHU USING A NEW POKEMON MOVE CALLED “CORUSCATING ELECTRIC ANUS” ON A KAIJU VERSION OF JERRY SEINFELD and then somehow it sorta does it, well, I don’t hate that.

Now, admittedly, when I started mucking about with AI art in the long-times-ago epoch of, mmm, six months ago, what it produced was often fiddly and hilarious and straight-up fucking weird. It would still have eyeballs in places where there shouldn’t be. Some guy’s face might look like a smear of paint, and his hand would have sixteen fingers. You might squint and see Sophia from the Golden Girls mysteriously hiding in the wallpaper. It felt a bit like you watching a robot dream. Like you were privy to the growth of its creative mind.

(It’s a lie, of course. There’s no robot dreaming; that is a romantic, anthropomorphic notion.)

But it didn’t take long for the results to get… good. Real good. Freaky good. You plug in something and what returns is a foursquare array of nearly exactly what you asked for, in a variety of art styles and modes. Which, one might argue, is quite the point of this whole affair, and I suppose it is, though I’ll also note for my mileage it also kinda defeats if not the point, than rather, the delight of having a robot puke up something just super fucking weird instead of precisely what you asked for. We were training the robot well. And it was learning fast.

And now, you see the so-called AI art everywhere, and you also see those who are mad at so-called AI art everywhere. And the latter category is often artists. Not always! But often enough.

As such, I’m going to side with the artists.

(Spoiler: you should always side with the artists.)

I’ll talk about why in a moment, though I will note here there is, of course, a nuanced discussion to be had here. I don’t think people using AI art are like, Cyber Hitlers or anything. I used it quite well looking for inspiration for my Evil Apples book (which has a title and I’ll soon tell you what it is, I promise), and it… actually worked, and given how many iterations it took to get that inspiration, I could not have easily paid an artist for that essentially throwaway act. I’ve seen some trans friends say that they like how some of the AI profile art makes them look and feel, and that’s pretty wonderful. I have artist friends who use it and like it and find it valuable — it is a tool to them, not a curse. Technology also tends to expedite tasks while also leaving human workers behind in ways that are sometimes good and sometimes bad and most often somewhere in the middle — the ability to have language translated for us is pretty useful in a broadly human sense, even as it puts actual translators out of work. And finally, I think we as people seize on beautiful things and weird things and odd memes, and AI art allows us to do all of that, allowing us to play and explore and just be inspired in weird ways. And connect with each other as we do so.

But, but, but.

But.

BUT.

I’m still saying, let’s cool it on the AI art.

And here’s why.

1. First, just watch Charlotte’s video here. It covers a lot of things I’d say, except smarter and cooler because she is smarter and cooler than I am.

2. It is demoralizing for young artists. Trust me when I tell you, it’s hard to muster the interest in making new art when you can poke a computer to do it for you with a sentence or three. Yes, there remains value in art for art’s sake, but I think if you were a young artist viewing a future in Making Art, this is definitely going to give you pause. Again, I know this because I’ve seen this exact feeling emerge. Now, once more, I know there is nuance to all of this — I’m sure professional photographers winced when every jabroni got a digital camera and could take 40,000 photos in a weekend. I’ve no doubt that musicians of a certain age felt like I DON’T LIKE THAT THESE YOUNG KIDS TODAY CAN JUST TAP BUTTONS AND MAKE SOME BEEP-BOOP MUSIC ON THEIR SYNTHESCISSORS. But I also note that AI art isn’t that. Digital photography is still photography. Electronic music is still music. AI art… well, this leads me to the next point.

3. No, this doesn’t make you an artist and I’m seeing way too many defenders of AI art take this line. Some stay back at the line of, “I’m now an art director, art-directing a robot,” which, ennnh. Okay? But some march full on ahead and are saying, hey, I’m an artist now too. Which… nnnghhhh, are you? I admit, this gives me a pit in my stomach because I don’t like telling people what art is or is not and what makes an artist. That kind of gatekeeping curdles my milk more than a little. Still, as someone who has used Midjourney and other AI art makers, I sure don’t think of myself as an artist. If anything, I was just a writer jamming ideas into a techbro’s art engine. I didn’t feel like an artist. I sure wouldn’t call myself an artist having used Midjourney. I guess if I was using it to generate images that I then sketched or manipulated, that counts — but to do that, I’d still have to feed the beast, and therein lies part of the problem.

4. Feeding the beast means feeding an engine that feeds techbros and not artists. That’s the heart of the problem, really. Artists are like dinosaurs getting mulched into oil to fuel this thing. And you can see it when the AI art reproduces material with artifacts of signatures and watermarks. It’s clearly harvesting pre-existing art. It’s not dreaming up new art. It’s using their art, human art, and nobody is getting compensated, nobody is getting their due for being the literal seed-bed for this entire thing. The only people compensated are tech people. The people who make the engine. They’re the ones glad to press the oil out of the artists to run the machine.

5. No, this isn’t the same thing as “being inspired by artists.” That’s one of the lines of argument that doesn’t well with me. “It’s not copying artists, it’s being inspired by them, same as a person would be.” Except it’s not that, and you know it’s not that. We’ve fallen for the same anthropomorphic bullshit I spewed above about this being some PRECIOUS ROBOT DREAMING, and AWWW SEE THE ART-BOT IS INSPIRED BY YOU, but that’s not what it is. It’s not sentient. It’s not alive. It’s not a person making artistic decisions. It’s software operating on algorithmic decisions driven by, again, engines of tech, not creatures of art. “But it’s just like Andy Warhol!” No it’s jolly well fucking not. And you know that. You know Andy Warhol was a person who, like him or not, made decisions about what images he used, how he would subvert them, how that would put the work in front of other humans. He was a human making human art from corporate material in order to affect other humans.

6. And of course some people are choosing this as a battleground to litigate the problems with our current copyright system. Look, we’re all out here making choices and sometimes those choices are choices that benefit our urges and interests rather than helping out the greater good, right? From water bottles to Spotify to this or that, we are morally compromised daily because it is difficult to get a clean 100% record on Best Human Practices. But there’s a special kind of person who then justifies their choices with a lot of bluster about how REALLY they’re actually doing the RIGHT THING — “I voted for Jill Stein because something-something third-parties.” And you’re seeing it now with this AI art thing. “Well, copyright in America is poisonous and we have to Defeat Capitalism and really artists should be paid a Universal Basic Income,” and yeah, okay, good point, except that’s not a thing right now and this certainly won’t make it a thing. Yes, copyright has its problems, but that doesn’t mean you should hand it over to a tech company to do with as they see fit. Yes, capitalism is fraught and fucked up but paying an AI art subscription isn’t you throwing a Molotov cocktail through a bank window. Artists are already people on the fringes and they deserve to be paid for their efforts. They deserve to eat. To pay rent. To buy cool things. Hell, I’d much rather an artist get rich than Tech Bro #483, okay?

7. There is an adjacency (is that a word? too late) to NFT/crypto culture that I find… off-putting. There’s an NFT publishing company which, I’ll be honest, seems super fucking scammy to me, and most of their Very Special Super Rare Non-Fungible Book Cover Tokens are… just random AI art. Ennh. Ugh. Yuck.

8. Finally, the biggest reason of all: because more artists are asking us to leave AI art behind. I dunno. I’m not an artist. So Imma listen to them when I can.

So, anyway, them’s my thoughts. I suspect (or at least, hope) this AI art thing burns out. I think we should share actual human art. No, I don’t think you’re Il Monstre for using AI art. I think artists should be compensated. It’s the holidays, buy their prints, commission them to do something cool, whatever. We humans are why the human experience matters. Side with WONDERFUL MEATBAG ARTISTS, not TECH BRO MAGPIES. Okay? Okay.

(And yes, I recognize they’re coming for writers, too. Our off-ramp is a few miles down the road yet, but the car is speeding up, not slowing down.)

And speaking of writers —

Hey, Wayward is out if you want a cool GIFTY BOOK THING for folks. (And curiously, it’s a book that has a lot of thoughts about artificial intelligence!)

Cut off date for ordering signed, personalized books of mine from Doylestown Bookshop is, I believe, end of day 12/12, so hop to it if that’s what you want.

And if you liked it, please talk about it, yell about it, shake people and demand they buy it, that sort of thing. Word-of-mouth is the most vital resource we have, and in this era of fracturing social media, it counts double, even triple.

I’m currently dialed back on Twitter (and locked down too), so I may not see stuff over there quickly, and if you’d care to share this there, that’s a-okay by me. (Twitter: another one of those questionable things these days. I’ve more thinking to do about that place, but for now, I’m busy with book edits and will take the break until after the holidays.)

Also, finally, for those looking to see me at the Bethlehem/Easton B&N this weekend — we’re going to reschedule it. Lot of illness going around (including in our own house), so feels like it’s best to maybe kick that can to after the holidays. Look for a rescheduling of that event into Jan or Feb!


38 responses to “Why I’m Done Using And Boosting AI Art”

  1. A good post, Chuck. AI art is a thing, for sure–at least in my family. Son #2 is quite into it. I have reservations but choose not to fight that battle when other battles are more productive.

  2. It’s already here for writers, too. Two days ago my husband demonstrated for me how one will spit out essays for typical high school writing assignments. No plagiarism because it’s original work. Ugh.

    • This will be insane, essay writing companies are already huge business. I’m hopeful that chatbotgpt3 will also be good for studying, learning, like a private tutor, but it’ll be like texting to grammar and spelling… no reason to learn how to write/craft an essay, logical thinking, etc.

  3. I fully agree, and I want to get in here before the AI bros drop in with their “AI-generated images are to art what photography was to landscape painting,” which is a profoundly disingenuous argument.

    How a camera works was well understood when it was made, and its use is very deliberately controlled by human beings. You can only take a picture of something if you decide to do so, ready the equipment necessary, and perform the process yourself. The finished product only contains exactly what you took a picture of and doesn’t “accidentally” incorporate elements from other pictures you didn’t take. Also, landscape painting wasn’t rendered obsolete, since the act of painting itself conferred transferable skills on the artist. Plenty of people found value in that and continued to make and commission landscapes.

    But all this AI shit? Vox interviewed a bunch of actual experts who pointed out that the way Midjourney and other AI image generators work is basically a black box. They have no idea why certain prompts deliver certain images. Control of the AI is basically an illusion, and there is nothing deliberate about the image it delivers based on the prompt.

    You might compare it to sculpting, if marble was viscous, had a will of its own, and regularly stole people’s faces.

  4. It’s a Pandora’s box of horrors, the AI art facility. As a working artist who has raised a family and spent a life alternating between lentils ( nothing wrong with a lentil, but sometimes I’d long for something a bit more exciting) and champagne, I’ve been watching the arguments pro and anti AI begin to gather momentum. We live in a world that I suspect will not honour its creatives if it can get the same deal for free.

    Perhaps I need to learn how to grow lentils for the difficult times ahead?

  5. Thank you for this post. I am a tiny artist and I have already lost work to the AI machine. I am so glad I don’t have to rely on those funds for my family. But I have put a lot of effort into learning and studying my art/writing crafts so I need to make a few pennies to keep investing in my creative development.

  6. It’s mindboggling how quickly it’s all improved. I’m a technical writer during the day, and I’ve seen copywriters and other tech writers already using writing AI to rough things out. And, obviously, I’ve seen a lot of AI-prompted images.

    I hate how artists who have spoken up about their art being used have been attacked online. Or others like, “I wanna prompt art like this artist who keeps shutting me down when I try to sell their art on t-shirts, but now I can prompt images that look like they did it and they can’t come at me…” Seeing the shitty people being shittier (because, of course).

    For me, art is as much about the artist. Yeah, I like your books, but I also like knowing a bit about the person I support when I buy your books. I love seeing people share how they do the magical things they do, and I don’t say that lightly…’cause there are so many artists, writers, musicians, game designers, and others making things that make the world a better place. I have a hard time separating art from the artist because that person is making the thing only they can make.

    I wish more people truly considered the badass people behind those things…

  7. I am not sure telling people not to use a technological solution to a market-based problem is a winning strategy. Like using the kiosks at McDonald’s, or vending machines, or computers to do math, artists seeking to compete with a technological shortcut need to understand what they bring that an AI can’t (initiave art, iterative art, narrative, and messaging), what their ‘service’ does for consumers (non-artistic types who need art do so with some reason, be it corporate art to fill a hotel or a new Tshirt design for my garage band), and how they can compete on the open market (be it through boutique services, name brand, or new uses for trademarks). AI art, be it writing, ‘drawing’, or animation, will get better, be cheaper, and be more convenient than any ‘analog’ art solutions presented by classical artists.

    You can argue about ‘the soul of art,’ the ’emotional roots of art,’ or how muses work all you want, but its the product and demand that drive consumption. What is that makes art from an artist irreplicable?

    For me, the biggest answer is that a computer can still only do what you tell it. Try telling an artist anything . Kidding aside, artists create without being told. They create things *we didn’t know we needed.* They also create a dialogue between audience and artist that is hard to imagine being replicated by a computer. Art exists in the space between the two, and if the other end of that space is only input-based, what does that mean for consuming art? If computer art becomes prolific, the analogue artist will become more valuable, just based on supply… those that survive.

    YMMV

  8. Let’s also not forget voice actors as more and more companies use AI for audiobooks. Several actors have had their voices and work used by some of these companies without their consent or any compensation. TikTok was even sued by a VO actor over this practice, and the case was later settled. The rapid rise of AI audiobooks not only has major security, ethical, and copyright concerns, it also threatens to put a lot of talented audiobook narrators out of business, much as AI art sites threaten artists (graphic artists in particular) and text sites like ChatGPT threaten writers. As the old proverb (erroneously attributed to Ben Franklin) says, “We must all hang together or we will all hang separately.”

  9. Great piece that is well thought out but I think Warhol would have used AI art if he could monetize it and extend his fame and he would like that everyone could get their own 15 minutes from it. Other artists of his time worried that his silkscreened photographs of celebrities had “ended painting” but Warhol had other motives. One of them was money, one was fame and another was to come up with a kind of art that was very easy to create decades before the digital age. To that end, he called his studio “The Factory” and didn’t even choose much less take the photos that he would have someone else colorize before he signed them. “Just make them pretty,” he said. Of course he would say that his real artistic statement was about the process itself and it was a joke that he was in on — it was not so much about painted art as it was a kind of performance art. To that end, I think it’s a sad little extravagance that museums and others pay millions of dollars to acquire one of Warhol’s jokes. And the same would apply to almost any of the ab-ex artists that preceded him with their fuzzy rectangles (Rothko), their drips and splats (Pollock) or their fields of paint divided by a line (Newman).

  10. Just wait till you, as a writer, take a look at the new ChatGPT. I’m surprised you didn’t hear my scream over on the other side of the country when I did a little experiment with it this past weekend.

  11. You, me, same page.

    I’ve been using Midjourney to create images for a roleplaying campaign I’m running, and it’s been a fun experience, but I no longer feel comfortable or ethical about giving MJ any money or attention. It’s time to tap out.

  12. Love it, and totally agree we should support artists first. But I’m not hopeful that “this AI art thing burns out…” Canva and Microsoft Designer both launched AI art tools within their design programs, using Dalle2 etc to generate images. Facebook and Google are launching text to AI videos soon. Stock photo sites (and even art-sites like DeviantArt) have decided to allow or embrace it. Even if we choose not to use it, there’s no way we’ll be able to avoid it.

  13. I got my husband to feed an AI art thing the title of my forthcoming novel, Amiant Soul. The AI decided that “soul” = black people posing for an album cover, and “amiant” = put these letters in the image but not in that order.
    It’s a no from me.

  14. Ahh you put this into words better than I could.

    I’ve sure enjoyed watching time creating AI images, but when my kid asked me to type in ‘Darth Vader’ and all these Darth Vader images came up that someone actually drew with their own skills developed over decades, I realised that copyright was being breached and it doesn’t matter what you type in, AI is getting its sources from stolen images. It’s a real shame.

    And I didn’t even mention the creep factor of another popular company that requires you to send them photos of your actual face… Ick.

  15. One of the things that really worries me is the context that this is developing in. Studios, publishers, basically anyone who can, is already doing their utmost to ensure that they can pay creatives as little as possible, and the idea of freely available technology that allows them to cut people out of the process altogether really makes me sweat.

    I don’t know what the answer is – part of me thinks like ‘unions’ or something; collective bargaining between artists and tech companies that want to cannibalise their art, to ensure that artists get fair remuneration, but I’m not sure that would be effective. It’s also concerning to think that, given how transformative some of this work is, that it might actually fall under fair-use, in the way that sufficiently transformative collage does. And that’s really *extra* scary, because then artists won’t have a leg to stand on.

    I ‘unno. It’s already demoralising making art online; as much as I want to get jazzed at how cool this technology could be if used ethically, it’s hard not to feel a bit queasy as we lurch in the wrong direction again.

  16. Agreed in full. I was really pondering jumping in to play with this stuff, but never did because it just never felt right.

    And while all the points made here are already sufficient, it gets worse… I ran across this thread today that discusses an AI art fashion model that exists in an incredibly problematic space w/r/t race, colonialism, erasure, etc.

    https://twitter.com/Vanessid/status/1600563042302861312

  17. Admittedly, I was curious about the AI sites, but they require subscriptions, so I didn’t do it because poverty. As for my own work, I’ve used free photo generators for private character visualization; my book trailers only contain stuff that’s free for commercial use or public domain. My voice-over actor got paid.

    Recently, alarm bells have been popping up on my Twitter feed regarding the art theft embedded in these things. You’ve validated my decision to stay far away from them. Thanks for this.

  18. Thank you Chuck,

    If I may add to your list, a major concern for many artists is less to do with the legal aspects of copyright, and more to do with the ethical aspect.

    A database like LAION-5B (so-called because it contains over 5 billion images) was originally used for research purposes, (not sure that would stand up to Fair Use, but let’s breeze past it). LAION-5B scraped *billions* of hours of artists’ labour from the internet without consent, or even our knowledge. And now, companies are commercializing that research to train AI. The mask is off.

    I’m an artist who has written about issues of respect for artists in places like Scientific American – and a common refrain I hear from AI defenders is, “It’s in public if it’s online. Humans learn by studying other artists, what’s the difference?”

    To the first point: placing my art online doesn’t mean I’ve relinquished copyright.

    To the second point: there’s a massive difference between a human artist studying others, learning from observation, happy accidents with materials, muscle memory, and pareidolia-inspired doodles and an AI trained on a dataset of 5 BILLION IMAGES.

    If I asked an ethical AI built only on public domain images and opt-ins from artists to generate pictures of Pikachu, it wouldn’t be able to, much less in the style of a living artist.

    If an AI like C-3PO were walking around and painting pictures and writing articles (there’s AI for that too – and games, music, and movies) I would have less of an issue. C-3PO also has “life” experiences of his own. He can produce something even without a dataset. These online AI platforms can’t.

    Last thing: arguments often focus on whether artists are blaming the AI, or people using it. That’s the wrong focus. Human beings made the choices to build them with unconsented labor from millions of people. I totally understand why everyone wants to try the shiny new tech thing- artists love doing that too. But once we know how our work is being abused in this way, it’s untenable.

    Thanks, Chuck. Appreciate your support.

  19. That’s an amazing argument,
    10 Pigeon hole AI art
    20 Claim that pigeon hole isn’t art
    30 “Therefore…”
    40 go to 10

    Its a really awful argument, and you sort of skirt close to admiting that, when you talk about photographers and musicians, the problem is you use a like for like example, then argue there isn’t a like for AI art, therefore…
    But in reality, the real argument is PAINTERS said photography isnt real art because “its too easy” (which, by the way, is ALLLLLLLWAYS the argument, slate tablets were condemned because they were easier than remembering things, paper was condemned because it was easier than slate tablets, abacusses were condemned for being easier than doing it in your head, calculators were condemned for being easier than abacusses, computers were condemned for being easier than calculators, photographs were condemned for being easier than painting, the mechanical loom was actively sabotaged (the act of throwing a wooden shoe (a sabot) into the machinery to damage it, and where we got the word sabotage from) because they were too easy, and each and every time, not only were they too easy, but they would put the REAL workers/artists/professionals out of work and allowed unskilled labour to take over with FAKE work), but that’s a really really bad argument, because as I’ve alluded too, where does it end? Do you shun your computer for a calculator, your car for a horse, your shoes for barefeet, your clothes for a loincloth, because after all, those things make your life to easy and are not REAL work? No, because our aim is to make things easier not harder, and a car is a valid tool of transport, it’s just faster, your computer is a valid tool of calculation (and work more broadly but let’s stick with one thing for the sake of argument), it’s just faster, your shoes and clothes are valid tools of survival, they are just hardier and more protective than bare skin. Just because something is easier, doesn’t make it invalid.

    Now after arguing that, the argument then says “if you sketch the AI art, it’s art”, as if the act of sketching magically, hey presto, I deem this art. But two issues with that, firstly, you had a whole bit about how “this art just copies things and that’s not real art” but making a carbon copy of the copy suddenly is art? Is this some sort of genetic thing, art skips a generation? And secondly where is the line for that and what determines it? If I sketch it with pencil and paper it’s art? What if I sketch it with a digital pen and tablet into a computer? Only tech bros were paid for every part of that, does that count? What if I 3d print my work? Again, only tech bros, is that valid? What if I use a laser engraver to engrave my work into wood, is that suddenly art?

    Now you might argue that “well, those forms are art because they require work from you” (I am more than willing to be wrong about that interpretation but it’s the only explication I can think of as to why the copy of a fake copy of real art suddenly becomes real and valid art again), but if “work” is the only criteria, then A. Laser engraving isn’t that hard I just import into my engraving program and let the algorithm work It Out, same with the 3d printer (unless you want to really go in and make it full 3d), and the digital or physical copies only require “work” but there is no “creative work” being done, which I would argue is the whole Pont of art, creative work, which you could define broadly along the lines of “the act of making something that was not previously present” (this would not include, for example a machine that makes springs all day, as they are already present, but it would include the person who first worked out, designed and built the first spring making machine, as it wasn’t already present, and would also include additions to such a machine). Simply sketching an AI artwork fails this criteria, however the AI artwork itself does not fail. Now we can get into a whole argument about “well it doesn’t make anything new it just takes from other places” but unless you’ve actually made a new paint, your painting takes paints previously used for other works too, and steel has already been invented, so you can’t use it in your spring making machine, the point being that, again, that argument has no bottom and it’s a pretty arbitrary line about “well, you can use these things below the line as much as you like but anything above it is only for the original artist. Can I draw stick figures? Or is that reserved only for the first humans to paint on the wall of their caves? If your going to run that argument, where, specifically, is that line? What about inspiration, I know you mention it but where does inspiration sit on the line? Can I get inspired by art and sketch a copy an that’s a real artwork? If I sketch a copy of the copy, is that suddenly real art again? If not, let’s go back to the “sketching AI art is real art again” agument. And if it is, then you can’t hold AI art to some standard you won’t hold other art to.

    But this leads us to one of your other points, “I wouldn’t consider myself an artist because I was just playing around with it” (paraphrased, but same meaning), and indeed you wernt, nor is a 6 year old and artist for drawing a stick figure family for their kindergarten project, or a 14 year old simply for buying a dslr camera, or a 30 year old for buying a musical instrument, bleep bloop music or not. You know what does make them artists? Creative work. Studying, trying, failing, succeeding, only for it to fall apart and trying again. Working out what works and what does, how this note pairs with this one, how this angle works best at this time of day, how stroking the brush in a certain way moves the paint just right to make it look like wind moving through a field and adding movement to a stationary picture.
    You know where else you find that? AI art. You can get AI artists of varying levels, just as every painter is not Michelangelo, or every composer is not Beethoven, not every AI artist is an original genius. But, they do use a technological tool to make something that wasn’t previously there, through trial and error and developing their skills, using the right combination of prompts together to make the a new image, and it is a skill that takes creative effort to creatively develop.

    Finally, I would make this argument. When EBay first stuck its head out into the great wide world, people thought (with reasonable suspicion) that it would just be a place of scams and crap. Now we can talk about how there were scams and what not, but for the most part, the deals were legitimate. The net result of eBay, what that alot of unwanted items were suddenly able to be liquidated, money flowed, and the economy was better off for it because effectively it allowed average people to unlock their frozen capital.
    AI art is a similar to this (while also having the “new things are not real things” argument to deal with), it’s a tool, that can be used by people, inexpensively, to unlock frozen creative work. Not all people will understand it, not all people will like it, not all people will use it. But it is a tool that will unlock the creative work of people who would not otherwise be able to express their creative ability, because creative ability can only come from paint, pencil, photograph or a bleep bloop machine, AND NOWHERE ELSE!

    • I certainly well remember all the “serious” photographers who bemoaned the arrival of the first “smart” cameras like the AE-10 where one could set it on either shutter or aperture priority and concentrate on getting the shot rather than play with the light meter and shoot four shots of the same thing varying the f-strop. And then even the ones who accepted that got completely freaked out over digital cameras that allow you to “correct” the photo after you took it. Since I always believed the object of my photography was the final image, and since I don’t photograph still lifes but rather active life, I’ve loved all those technological improvements.

      But none of them replace the photographer’s eye, the ability to open oneself to “the decisive moment” as Cartier-Bresson put it – they merely make it easy to not have to grab the old light meter and possibly miss “the decisive moment.”

      But ChatGPT really changes all that when it comes to writing. This is something that really is all the things people freak out about.

    • All of your examples are still controlled entirely by humans. The mechanical loom made it easier to weave textiles, but it didn’t itself steal what human weavers had made before. Your 3D printer doesn’t cobble together a design on its own based on half-witted prompts. Even cameras, which can take pictures of existing art, must be entirely operated by a human being who decides where to point it and when to take the picture.

      Art is a deliberate act, where every choice is made on purpose even if the result is accidental. AIs have no willpower of their own. And since AI experts have admitted they don’t entirely understand why AIs pull from some sources and not others, you can’t claim that humans writing prompts have complete control over the process either.

      Finally, the concern about eBay scams was well-founded, and indeed it was people—not any kind of automated process—that monitored the site, reported scams, and kept things running smoothly and above board. The website is the interface, but it’s still the people who operate it as buyers, sellers, and developers that make it work.

      You claim that AI-generated content unlocks “frozen creativity,” but it does nothing of the sort. People who use AI are not creating anything. They have no control over the output, and that output is stolen entirely from human-made art. Nothing that AI creates is art, and trying to defend its use just makes you sound like a thief.

    • Regarding ChatGPT, I’ve already seen some forums and news groups where folks are hinting or outright saying they’ll use it create entire books. If they can do so very rapidly, then it’s not hard to see folks putting out dozens, if not hundreds, of these each week. Per person. With over 4 million books (if you include self-pubbed works) published each year, that number could easily skyrocket. If authors think discoverability is a problem now …

      • As an experiment (I do non-fiction writing in history), I asked ChatGPI to give me 1500 words on the importance to the US Navy of the Battle of Midway. What I got back could have passed muster with readers of the book I wrote that has that topic as part of it. It didn’t go into the depth I did, but it was “good enough.” This is seriously dangerous! I have run across more than a few “cut and paste authors” in my field, and this is a way for them not be be caught.

        • Professors are already struggling with students turning in AI-generated essays and reports, so this is going to be a real and ongoing problem. My husband (a former physics student) and I were discussing this the other day, and he feels that schools will have to go back to The Socratic Method, doing away with external writing altogether, in combination with students being required to write all works during class without tech devices. Brave new world.

  20. Well, that’s an opinion. But as an artist, engaged to another artist, and many of my tattoo artists, painters, drawing artists and writers, we know that this is a fad that’ll run out sooner than later like everything that trends, but in the meantime we are collaborating and evolving with it. Some of us are using people’s AI generated art to draw our own designs, and putting our own signature on it. Meaning it’s boosted our sales, increased revenue, gotten more people engaged in it, and realizing that you can’t stop it, so work with it. Now, let’s talk about copyright design. Not one thing you see is ever going to be original, someone somewhere has already done it before in the thousands of years humans existed. So if that’s the case, we shouldn’t be allowed to do any art whatsoever anymore, because it’s all inspired and downright stolen from others. Welcome to what capitalism really has done. Look at all those pretentious rich artists who just threw paint on a canvas and sold it for thousands while someone who dedicated their entire life to their craft that’s original and as authentic as it possibly can be not even be able to sell their work on the street. So, here’s an even better idea: Let this trend pass, and if you want to get pissed at something and write about something, write about the domestic terrorism warning to the LGBTQ communities as well as Jewish communities and people of color? You know? The real problems.

  21. I’m seeing a push to encourage writers to use Ai writing engines in writer Facebook groups and it’s worrying. They’re using the same ‘adapt or die’ BS that those who are pushing Ai art have tried. If I heard an author I loved was dabbling in Ai writing apps it would make me doubt their work. I’d never buy a book from them again.
    One person in a writers group who was advocating Ai writing apps said ‘The choice is to draw a line in the sand and decide there’s only one pure way to write, and become obsolete. Or learn the new tools”
    We don’t need new tools. We don’t need any tech at all to write. We need only human imagination and something to make a mark with – whether we write on a wall or on paper.
    Tech Bros are trying to convince us that art should be accessible to everyone. It already is. Nothing is preventing anyone from picking up something to help them make art. What they’re actually pushing is cutting corners and instant gratification. With all creative endeavors we have to work at it and learn the craft. There is no craft in Ai, there is no soul.

  22. Just read an article on The Verge about a writer(? Are you a writer if you use ChatGPT to write for you?) that uses AI to write plots.

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