Summary. With AI transforming our society and creative industries, ChatGPT and AI-generated art have sparked conversations and ethical concerns. AI’s unique aesthetic appeal and unconventional styles have undoubtedly raised questions about creativity and the role of human artists.
Increasingly, artificial intelligence (AI) is turning society on its head, transforming our lives, and how we go about doing things. With AI, it is no longer “business as usual”. The recent release of ChatGPT, for instance, has initiated numerous conversations among users, ranging from content generation and writing assistance, to creative tasks. Nonetheless, ChatGPT has also led to ethical concerns including its potential misuse, impact on job markets, and the need for responsible AI development and deployment.
The creative industry has also witnessed the deployment of AI for creating art, a phenomenon that has gained momentum, particularly on social media such as TikTok with its anime filter, which can generate an animated picture of objects placed before the camera. The adoption of AI-generated content sites such as Midjourney, Starry AI, and Jasper Art have further contributed to the proliferation of AI-generated art.
The popularity of AI-generated art can be attributed to the novelty and unique aesthetic appeal of artworks created by algorithms. These artworks often exhibit abstract, surreal, and unconventional styles that captivate viewers and generate curiosity. However, the concept of using machines to create art also raises questions about the boundaries of true creativity and the role of human artists in the creative process, which has led to numerous discussions and debates.
Controversies surrounding AI-generated art are often in relation to issues of authorship, originality, and attribution. Unfortunately, these issues have been exacerbated by recent events, such as Jason Allen’s victory in the Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition. Mr Allen, an emerging digital artist, was awarded the blue ribbon, the competition’s top prize, for his artwork Théâtre D’opéra Spatial, which was generated by AI via Midjourney, and Mr Allen never even painted a single stroke of it.
Mr Allen defended his victory by claiming that AI is simply a tool used by human artists, and the artist should still be credited for the end result based on how they programmed the AI or curated the output. This has sparked a furore among artists, the creative communities and professionals, with many raising questions such as will AI replace artists and designers; will AI take over the creative industries one day; and where do we now draw the boundaries?
Will AI replace Artists and Designers?
Art has been an essential form of expression for centuries, with painters and artists creating beautiful pieces of work that have stood the test of time and crossed borders. However, there has been a growing interest in the use of AI to create art that is comparable to that created by humans. Consider the following paintings as the example — which one is human generated, and which is AI-generated?
If you chose the one in the middle, you are correct. This painting captures the woman’s essence, beauty, and features in a realistic yet expressive manner. Colours were adapted through the lighting and shading values, while the brushstrokes used were precise and added depth and texture to the painting.
In contrast, the other two AI-generated artworks were created using machine learning algorithms, neural networks, and training data based on a dataset of images. The portrait on the right was generated solely using AI, with no human reference. While the one on the left had a human touch through references from an artist and more closely resembles the portrait in the middle, using the prompt below:
“Asian woman head and shoulders portrait from her side, 8k resolution concept art portrait by Greg Rutkowski, Artgerm, WLOP, Alphonse Mucha dynamic lighting hyper detailed intricately detailed Splash art trending on Artstation triadic colours Unreal Engine 5 volumetric lighting.”
While AI-generated artworks may share similarities with the human-generated or traditional digital painting, it is important to note that there are differences in the two types of paintings. Traditional digital painting is created by a human artist based on the unique experiences, emotions, and perspectives of the human artist, which are factors that influence the final product. Conversely, AI-generated artwork is constrained by the algorithms and training data employed in its creation.
Despite these differences, the ease and simplicity of using AI to create artworks has led to its increased adoption. This has caused a shift in the creative industry, with portrait artists and freelancers having their incomes impacted greatly. In some cases, people started to call themself ‘artists’ while all they do is to add a text prompt for AI to generate images almost immediately.
The potential of this technology has not gone unnoticed by investors and entrepreneurs. In 2018, an AI-generated portrait using Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) algorithm was sold for a remarkable US$432,500 at Christie’s auction house. Andthe startup behind Stable Diffusion and Stability AI has set its sights on achieving a staggering US$1 billion valuation. Even fields such as architecture, fashion and product design have muscled in on the act by integrating AI in their practice.
The debate around whether AI will replace artists and designers has been ongoing for several years and only intensified this year. Although AI-generated designs and artworks can possess pleasing aesthetics, they lack the unique perspectives, emotions, and experiences that human artists and designers breathe into their creations. AI is only capable of creating what it has been programmed to do and hence, it does not have the same capacity for creativity, imagination, and innovation as human artists and designers.
Furthermore, the creative process involves more than just aesthetics. Artists and designers have to consider the function, user experience, and social impact of their work. These considerations demand a profound understanding of human behaviour and society. While machines may be able to generate designs and art, they cannot provide the same level of nuanced understanding and depth of human experience, and until such a time someone invents a god-like machine, AI can never provide a level of insight and empathy that only humans can.
AI-generated art and designs may seem impressive but it is insufficient to fully replace the creative talents and ingenuity of human artists and designers. Instead, as humans evolve and AI improves, it is important to focus on how we can use technology to enhance, rather than replace, human creativity and innovation.
While AI may offer new possibilities for art and design such as cost reduction and faster work, it is the human creator who gives meaning and value to the artwork through their distinct style in interpretation and problem-solving approach. In that sense, it is essential to recognise AI as a complement to human creativity, not a substitute.
So — are you an artist, a designer, or an image generator? You decide.
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