Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

Student-run media of Black Hills State University. The Jacket Journal / KBHU-TV / KBHU 89.1 FM & KJKT 90.7 FM "The Buzz".

BHSU Media

The human impact of A.I.-generated art

With an increase in the availability of image-generating artificial intelligence (AI) apps in the past decade like DALL-E, Mi journey, Stable Diffusion and Photo sonic, people within the art community are discussing the impact AI is having on art and what future of art may look like with this new technological advancement.

Many are looking at the rise of AI as yet another technological advancement in the art industry, which has seen many artistic evolutions within the past century, and humanity has managed to take it in stride. Art genres like photography and digital art, which were criticized when first introduced, are now some of the most sought out professions within the art world.

Skott Chandler, Black Hills State University (BHSU) associate professor of photography believes that it is too early to say exactly what the future may hold for the art industry when it relates to AI.

“We are in the infancy of AI, soon we will see what it needs and then things will be built around it,” Chandler said. “I always keep coming back to that [it being an infant]. I’m like show it to me in 10 years, when people have figured out the uses of it.”

As of right now many artists are looking at AI as a tool. Chandler relates how he often struggles with writing artist statements.

“I’m an artist, I’m not a writer,” Chandler said. “I’ve found myself being like ‘Hey, write me an artist’s statement’ … I bet a writer would be pissed at me for saying this, because that’s their job. For me who’s not a writer and I think for somebody who’s not an artist, it might become a common tool, and I think it already is.”

Certain sensitive topics are being censored within AI generators. Chandler recounts how he once was messing around with AI, when he asked it to generate an image of a volcano and a still dormant volcano appeared. He then asked it to generate an eruption where lava spilled over the sides and rushed down the mountain to where a human stood and light the figure on fire, and the AI system popped up with an error.

Other issues are arising similar to the one Chandler encountered. ERNIE-VILG, a Chinese-image-making AI generator, refuses to show culturally sensitive images, like those of Tiananmen Square. This brings to light the frequently asked question of what should be considered art.

“Art isn’t censored,” Chandler said. “There is a lot of controversial art out there.”

An issue that arises with the expression of AI into the art world, is that AI is not human, so therefore, as of now, all it can do is replicate human emotions, creativity and experiences. Therefore, art that is produced by AI is considered by many to not actually be original.

However, Chandler brings up the question of, is this not exactly what humans do as well? Do artists not draw inspiration from thousands of artists that lived before and during their time? So, in what way is it wrong for AI to do what humans have been doing for centuries? Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Ryan Clark, who teaches ethics and philosophy courses at BHSU elaborates on this idea.

“Would you, as an artist, owe everybody a cut, for three-dimensional perspective,” Clark said. “We owe somebody for that. Using this pigment of yellow, who do you owe for that? The idea of using an impressionist style, who do you owe for that? At a certain point if we say that everyone owes everybody then we end up being in an impossible situation.”

The main people that AI is impacting currently are those who require recognition for their art in order to make a living. A Polish artist by the name of, Greg Rutkowski, is famous for his digital art, which is used in popular video games. His name is one of the most looked up names within the AI generator, and he feels that he deserves compensation.

“If you have an artist that has a very particular style or a particular voice, and you have an AI thatjust does a direct copy of a living artist that came up with an innovation and that is how they make their money,” Clark said. “Maybe they are allowed to do it but not without making a profit off it. It seems reasonable that we put certain limitations on it.”

If AI were to take over the art world, the problem arises of whether humans would accept art that is not made by a human, and therefore might lack the emotion that people are able to place within it. In the future maybe we will no longer have the same need for human artists. As a society, however, we may benefit from the experience and insights of a human artist.

Humans desire connections and community between other humans. It is this desire for shared connection that draws so many to art. We want to be able to look at a photo or a painting and say, “This piece made me feel this way,” or “I feel like the artist is trying to portray this type of message through this image.”

“It can make a painting, but it can’t choose if that painting is good or not,” Chandler said. “It can generate that content, but it does not have the ability to put meaning on that content, symbolism on that content. It is always going to take a different type of human thought.”

The question with AI then is, is it possible for these emotions to be replicated? If we thought that a human made a certain piece, but one in fact did not, would we still be able to connect with the art in the same way? Would we still able to feel the same sense of shared human emotion? So, the main problem that the art world might have to wrestle with in the future, is not who is receiving credit and profits, but rather attempting to keep art as a genre that portrays real, genuine and accurate human emotions.

“If we, moving into the 21st century, can become convinced that an artwork was made by a human artist…then that’s really all we would need to connect with it the same way that we connect with other human art works,” Clark said. “So, the future of art might be a sort of parlor game where we are always proving that the artist really exists.”