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AI vs Artists

Is AI art really a threat to artists?

By K. RossPublished 29 days ago Updated 25 days ago 5 min read
Jason Allen's A.I.-generated work, "Théâtre D'opéra Spatial"

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a few years. However, recent technologies, such as DALL-E 2, Midjourney, and Artbreeder, have allowed even the most inexperienced artists to produce intricate, abstract, or lifelike pieces by merely entering a few words into a text box. Art is no longer confined by skill but by one's imagination, and the ability to play with words is the limit.

Many human artists are understandably concerned about their own futures due to these apps; after all, why would anyone pay for art when they could create it themselves? Intense discussions regarding the morality of AI-generated art have also resulted from these apps, as well as resistance from those who believe that they are just a high-tech form of plagiarism.


AI "art" may look like it is made in seconds, but it's made from years of work and practice by human artists. A code that mimics other artists without interacting with artists. 

As time progresses, so does art. Art reflects the intentions of the artists, which often are influenced by the world around them. When things change, it's common to fear it and defend what you know.

"The fear has sometimes been expressed that photography would in time entirely supersede the art of painting. Some people seem to think that when the process of taking photographs in colors has been perfected and made common enough, the painter will have nothing more to do." - Henrietta Clopath, 1901

Critics of the time saw photography merely as a thoughtless mechanism for replication, one that lacked "that refined feeling and sentiment which animate the productions of a man of genius." However, photography is no longer feared in this manner; instead, it now has its own complex techniques and unique artistic practices that make it a celebrated art form. 

The concerns seem similarly overhyped today. However, this time the artists may be right. In fact, artificial intelligence is vastly incomparable to past technology. What makes the new AI tools different is that they're not only capable of producing stunning pictures in a matter of seconds, but they are built and trained on powerful algorithms - looking through millions of pictures on the internet every day, including those made by real artists who now unknowingly help train their biggest competitor every time they upload new work. Humans simply can't keep up with AI's speed and processing power, which could mean the end of a whole industry.

Image created with artbreeder

Stolen Art

The main distinction between AI art and photography or works by artists that draw inspiration from others is that AI uses existing images/artworks. Whereas photography, realistically or abstractly, captures the world around us to produce new images. The main issue with this type of art is that it's not unique. It's stolen.

Take the image below is a combination of word prompts and the paintings (which are part of the Met's Open Access policy):

Image created with artbreeder

How does it work?

AI is a creative tool that works with algorithms that are set up to specific rules through which machines analyze thousands of images to comprehend a particular creation process, like a specific style or aesthetic. These images may come from Instagram, Pinterest or Artist's personal art websites. This AI doesn't buy or ask for permission to use these images before using them to create new works. 

Although the other side of the argument is that AI is simply mimicking human artists, watching and learning, you do have to ask yourself where this inspiration is coming from. Whether it's a coincidence or not, it is certainly a possibility that needs to be kept in mind.

AI is Everywhere

This isn't an understatement AI can solve math problems, drive cars, discover new drugs, and write essays, and that's just breaking the surface. AI learns from humans, and as humans advance, so will AI; filling in those mundane and boring aspects of life is where AI is useful. It's not something to fear but something to be aware of.

By Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Privacy remains an issue in all areas of AI because artificial intelligence requires data to learn patterns and make decisions. As there are seemingly endless ways in which artificial intelligence is beginning to impact our lives, we will have to wait for laws and regulations to catch up on them.

Art is Dead

It's understandable why artists are threatened by this artificial intelligence, especially if art is where you make your profit, but art is not dead. It can be beautiful and impressive, but something about it loses its spark when you're told it's made by AI. It simply lacks a soul. On the other hand, with this new technology, new artists have also emerged. They have quickly mastered how to use prompts to their advantage and create amazing pieces, and that is certainly something that should not be disregarded.

It may be inevitable that, at some point in the future, many companies will opt to have their artwork made by AI instead of humans. AI-generated art is a lot cheaper and a lot faster than commissioning somebody to create one painting over the course of months. If given a choice to have hundreds, if not thousands, of images to pick from in a matter of weeks while paying only one person to write prompts all day, you can bet that's the one corporations will choose.

Can't kill passion

Whether AI art dies as a trend or lives to destroy its creators. Human art will always be more breathtaking and more alive. Perhaps, this technological revolution will make us rediscover the true beauty behind man-made art which has been sitting on your Instagram page or hidden in museums all over the world. 

At the end of the day, art created by humans will always be more beautiful and won't stop humans from doing what they love, creating art that expresses real emotions and challenges. We create because that is what we love to do and nothing will stop that.

* As always, thank you for reading and supporting me!!!

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About the Creator

K. Ross

I write articles about human experiences with a keen interest in art, psychology and society. I post about once a month.

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Comments (14)

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  • Saradean2 days ago

    Fascinating read. Who knows, maybe billionaires will be buying AI-generated Da Vinci replicas in the future! https://www.myadvocateaurora.net/

  • Amir Hossain9 days ago

    Awesome. And Artificial Intelligence Can't Replace Humans!

  • Chua Yuan Heng10 days ago

    AI can imagine too! Great.

  • superb..

  • CONTX Media24 days ago

    Fascinating read. Who knows, maybe billionaires will be buying AI-generated Da Vinci replicas in the future!

  • Edwin Rajan24 days ago

    nice work

  • Dana Stewart24 days ago

    I remember reading about the lead photo winning a contest and the controversy about it being created with AI. The artist had said it took many deliberate hours to create. Very good piece! I really enjoyed reading and congratulations on Top Story!

  • Love this insightful essay. Heartef

  • Not only does suggesting machines can be artists threaten art it threatens humanity even more. In fact, it greatly devalues both as I have written about previously (see link below). It says something very ugly about ourselves that we believe machines are capable of creating art and it worries me greatly that this belief is so widespread. The even more widespread misperception that machines can be intelligent has caused so much confusion among so many. After all, If machines can be intelligent why can't they be artists, or scientists, or anything else humans can be? In fact though they cannot be any of those things, and never can be for if they ever were they would no longer be machines. This is the logical fallacy that lies at the heart of AI that computer scientists and techo utopians willfully ignore or they address by redefining intelligence, slicing it into ever smaller and smaller types and kinds. They say we didn't really mean it when we said computers were intelligent we only meant that they had a kind of intelligence or a certain type of intelligence. The type and/or kind of intelligence they mean is constantly debated and ever changing but there is one thing a kind of intelligence is not, it is not intelligence, it is not actual intelligence. For intelligence is not a thing for which kinds and types can be applied, not if one wishes to remain logically consistent in the application of the term. Logic means nothing to the techno utopians however though ironically the algorithms they use to program the machines they say are "intelligent" or have a type of intelligence are all based on various forms of it. It is one of the greatest ironies of the modern world in fact. Logic ignored to support an illogical contention about things/machines which are ultimately based on logic and can only operate in a logical fashion as dictated by their programming which they have no choice but to follow. The word "choice" does not even apply to a computer or machine. In fact, logically it cannot apply. Programming does not allow choices, it can sometimes be made to provide the illusion of choice but it is just that, an illusion as is the belief that machines can be intelligent or the belief that they can be artitsts. They can be none of those things, ever, for the moment they are any of them, they will no longer be machines. https://vocal.media/futurism/suggesting-that-machines-are-artists-devalues-art-and-humanity

  • As a teacher who discovered a student used AI to complete one of my assignments, I often wondered what my role as an educator would be. Why teach when stuff can do stuff for kids. My coworker threw in a question to the AI, "Will AI replace teachers?" and the AI, take this as you will, replied that it can't because AI can't have the heart and soul and interpersonal connections teachers can create between students. It wrote that to us. So, in an essence, AI was correct... AI can't replace art, but it can displace our worth and value and effort. This will be a new era many will have to adapt and evolve to in order to survive and thrive.

  • Zohaib Sunesara27 days ago

    AI can be seen as a tool for artists, rather than a threat. It can potentially help artists to create new and innovative works, and can also be used as a means of enhancing or augmenting traditional artistic practices. However, it is important to recognize that AI is not a replacement for human creativity and artistic expression. AI can generate unique and interesting output, but it cannot replicate the depth and complexity of human emotions and experiences that are often conveyed through art. Ultimately, the relationship between AI and artists will depend on how the two are used together, and it is up to individual artists to decide whether and how they want to incorporate AI into their work.

  • Dwayne Chapman27 days ago

    I find the argument against AI is usually from someone who already benefits from other tools that made past skilled workers obsolete. I think a show you should check out is "Carole and Tuesday". It's a good series but also touches on AI generated music (which already exists by the way). Where the majority of people on Mars use some form of AI generation for their music and two girls still make it big by creating their own music from the heart. Technology has already replaced tens of millions of jobs around the world just in the past decade and will continue to do so, but as it does, new forms of jobs and business opportunities up. Refer to music. Album vs Streaming. If someone *only* has their music on albums, they won't make it big in today's world. We use to have to burn CDs from bought albums to make custom playlists. Now? It's just standard to look up any song/artist on things like Spotify and tap a button to create a playlist.

  • Erica Wagner27 days ago

    A fine, thoughtful piece on a complex issue… But yep, *stolen*, that’s the word. Here’s hoping we humans win out!

  • Michele Hardy28 days ago

    I love your breakdown of both the situation with AI and the arguments for and against it. Personally, I look at it like when digital art technology and stylus' became available at very affordable rates for consumers/artists. Now everyone can be a digital artist and technically the paint manufacturers of the world should be out of business. But they're not. AI is a tool that will make mass produced art easier and cheaper to make. But there should always be a market for organically human made art (both hand painted and digital). It will make the competition fiercer and possibly more cut throat, but human made art won't die out completely. Same thing is happening in the music industry. AI is composing scores and pop hits. Yet, there will always be humans who want to compose music regardless of what's happening in the market place. We create because we must.

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