The use of artificial intelligence (AI) has created waves in the creative industries. AI systems that produce vivid images in response to straightforward text or visual prompts have increased in popularity over the past few years. AI tools such as DALL-E and NightCafe, among others, can create everything from ludicrous hypotheticals to realistic faces of imaginary people and self-portraits in a matter of seconds. AI has even made award winning art, upsetting artists, and prompting the question can AI generated art really replace creatives?
Will AI generated art replace creative humans?
Before it can be claimed that AI art tools will replace creatives, first you need to know how AI images and art are created.
So, how exactly is AI art made? With AI generators such as DALL-E, you can create images from simple text, just provide the generator with a text description of what you’d like to see, and it will generate a subsequent image. The DALL-E AI generator uses algorithms that can be taught and commanded to generate your desired images.
It’s no surprise that concerned creatives and AI champions believe these imagery systems may displace illustrators, graphic designers, artists, and other creative professionals. These systems create work more quickly and inexpensively than a human artist could, with arguably comparable quality. However, this conclusion neglects the intangible but fundamental role of human creativity in creating art.
Howeely, M (2022). AI Generated Image: A still of Homer Simpson in the Blair Witch Project [Image]. Image available here.
Other drawbacks involve the criticism of AI generated images for its perpetuating of racist and sexist conventions. For example, including prompts such as ‘Nurse’ may generate more images of women, whereas including prompts such as ‘Farmer’ may create more images of white-passing men. Copyright concerns are also another issue shrouding AI generated art. These systems mine original art from the internet without credit or giving commission to the artists. This could mean that AI generated images will be unlikely to replace things such as digital ads, as advertising and design agencies would most likely not be inclined to take the risk of legal action for creating unoriginal work for their clients.
The truth is that the human element in creative processes won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Although some areas of the creative process may be replaced by artificial intelligence, the creative decision element, which is crucial in art, cannot be replace by current AI technology. Artistic creativity requires selecting the materials needed for a project, originality, coming up with the concept of what to create and the message you want to send to your audience. No AI generator can make these decisions without the help of a human artist. Moreover, art is often a response to different situations such as environmental and political issues. Therefore, these circumstances can’t be replicated using an AI machine without the help of a person.
Howeely, M (2022). AI Generated Image: A possum, a skunk, a raccoon, and a blue jay having a picnic together, album cover art [Image]. Image available here.
Although AI generators can analyse and interpret data in unexpected ways and attract attention to different aspects that may escape the human eye, they are not autonomous. Thus, they won’t generate any new artistic styles or creative movements on their own without human help. While these AI tools can produce variations of an existing image, they cannot replace artists and designers, as they do not give images an artistic context and purpose. Finally, the relationship between creatives and their work has remained unchanged despite the rise in the number of AI art generators, mainly because artists work to answer human questions as opposed to technical ones.
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