machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« on: August 17, 2022, 03:43:07 PM »
for those who don't already know, machine-generated art is experiencing its first renaissance. two years ago, i'd have said that i wouldn't see this level of sophistication in text-to-image generators in my lifetime. if you want to see some examples, check out a few of these:

https://openai.com/dall-e-2/
https://imagen.research.google/
https://www.midjourney.com/showcase/

some interesting questions come to mind.
  • given that these models are trained on art from living artists, is it fucked up for people to use them to generate art for commercial purposes?
  • hell, is it even okay to use them to make some art for my home? normally you'd have to commission an artist for custom work. this is basically free. and, again, trained on living artists' works.
  • how far will this tech develop? how long before i can use them to produce music and motion pictures?
  • how long before they can produce images of real people that are indistinguishable from genuine images?

anyway, i'm just curious to see what people think.
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Offline Clyde Frog

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2022, 04:13:57 PM »
As far as the ethics around training go, I personally don't have a problem with it. Living carbon-based artists are also trained on the work of other living artists, while also having more creative agency to flavor their art with their own individual style. I kind of view training the AI as a similar in a lot of ways, and so using AI to generate art like this doesn't really bother me. I have a kid who thinks in the next 10 years there won't be any human beings making art because the AI will be doing it all, and I have a hard time believing that given the creative drive people tend to have. In the near term, I see it used for people to have a quick-and-easy way to come up with something like cover art for a book or album they want to self-publish and maybe aren't gifted with drawing or painting.

Producing images of people that are indistinguishable from genuine images is an interesting thought, but I also think DeepFake tech is already taking the more desirable path for nefarious parties that want to come up with compromising images of real people doing questionable things.

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Offline Rushy

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2022, 04:29:54 PM »
given that these models are trained on art from living artists, is it fucked up for people to use them to generate art for commercial purposes?

Human art has always been influenced and taken form based on art made by someone else (or nature itself). I think it's fine for an AI to be influenced by human art since we're fine with humans being influenced by human art.

hell, is it even okay to use them to make some art for my home? normally you'd have to commission an artist for custom work. this is basically free. and, again, trained on living artists' works.

No different from an art student drawing some art for my home pro bono, in my opinion. Humans aren't going around making perfectly original art, free or otherwise. I'm sure there will eventually be fantastic art AIs that cost money to use, anyway.


how far will this tech develop? how long before i can use them to produce music and motion pictures?

How long for music? I think that answer is negative years: https://openai.com/blog/jukebox/

Motion pictures that are believable is probably quite a bit away, but not as far away as we might think. Wouldn't be surprised if we have an AI Toy Story moment within two decades.

how long before they can produce images of real people that are indistinguishable from genuine images?

In my hot opinion, they already can (depending on how we want to debate what a "genuine image" is). How long before an AI is making pictures that look like they were taken with your phone at a theme park yesterday? Probably sooner than we'd like (and the private, more powerful versions of these systems can probably already do just that).
« Last Edit: August 17, 2022, 04:32:12 PM by Rushy »

Offline ohplease

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2022, 05:12:44 PM »
I don't have a problem with it.  It would be nice if the full provenance of an object (art, currency, artifacts, or even mass produced commercial products) could be known, but that has never been true even without computers.  Its a constant battle with the counterfeiters.  Video evidence of some act will soon, if not already, not be sufficient entirely on its own to convince people that said act occurred as shown.  But direct eye witnesses to such claimed acts are always good in any case.

A possible counter example might be security camera footage of something where there is in fact no one else present and one party is just claiming that an event occurred due to having it recorded.  If faking such things becomes essentially free, one might imagine bad uses of it, but we'll just have to deal with that if it becomes an issue.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2022, 05:25:00 PM by ohplease »

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Offline xasop

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2022, 05:56:53 PM »
given that these models are trained on art from living artists, is it fucked up for people to use them to generate art for commercial purposes?
Human art has always been influenced and taken form based on art made by someone else (or nature itself). I think it's fine for an AI to be influenced by human art since we're fine with humans being influenced by human art.
According to copyright law, inspiration is acceptable, but blatant copying is unacceptable. The distinction between inspiration and copying is a human one with no strict definition, which raises the question of whether it is possible for a computer to understand the difference, let alone apply it in practice.

So, should an AI that is capable of copying existing art itself be considered a copyright violation? Is only some of its output a copyright violation, while other output isn't? Who is civilly and criminally liable in case of a violation, the creator of the AI or the user who provided the input?

You can't pretend that established precedent can answer these questions because they are questions nobody has ever had to answer before. Copyright law as it exists today is not some moral absolute, it is a solution to problems that existed in the past, and it does not adequately cover the technology of today.
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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2022, 06:37:01 PM »
I follow a few artists on twitter and I recently saw one who retweeted a comment like "the last one looks like an AI painting" and the artist essentially said it was the most insulting comment he's gotten and he wouldn't be surprised if that kind of comment becomes more prevalent. And it wasn't even a harsh criticism because this particular artist is very very good.

Anyway, I think it sucks. People already undervalue artists' work and this makes it worse obviously. We stray further from God's light everyday.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2022, 06:45:25 PM by rooster »

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Offline Pete Svarrior

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2022, 06:38:34 PM »
I do feel a little uneasy about it, but more from the point of view of consequences than fairness.

Is it fair to the human artists? I have no idea. Do I worry that it could severely reduce the output of human artists (and, consequently, providing no new art for the AIs to learn from)? Yeah.
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Offline ohplease

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2022, 07:03:24 PM »
Devaluing the work of artists would indeed be bad.  But I'm not so sure that will be the result.  In music (which is very different from painting due to the performance aspect, but still is an interesting data point) I read some pieces prior to the pandemic that a number of artists were focusing more on concerts, that can not be faked, instead of producing recordings that are becoming ever easier to counterfeit.

Maybe originals will in fact become more valued and copies less so.  To be an original there has to be some sort of verification that such is the case.  e.g. I have a water color that I really like that I know is an original as I know the artist.  If I were to sell it there needs to be something that can provide that same verification.  I'm not sure NFTs are the answer here but something along those lines might serve such a purpose.

As for where this is going, I have no more idea than anyone else.  However its interesting to note that self driving cars was thought to be pretty doable, we'll have this working in just a few years.  But it turns out its a lot harder than originally thought.  It would not surprise me if we find that creating art (as something that inspires that touches people etc) is in a similar class.

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2022, 08:18:47 PM »
Most artists of any kind produce their art because they are compelled to. They don't produce art because they feel the world does not have enough art in it already. In fact, if you ask most hardcore artists, " Would you still produce art if you knew there was no one to see it?" Most of the time, they say yes.

Writing and digital publishing has been a side hustle of mine for many years. I've written novels and nonfiction but now there is software that can artificially create stories. It's easy to imagine a website where an AI could create a novel for you based on your input. I don't see that as a threat, just another competitor.

I think I'm okay with an AI novel writer ingesting some of my work along with Hemingway and whoever to produce a story. However, if the AI created a story starring someone else's intellectual property like Spider-Man and sold it for money, then there could be some serious shit.
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Offline Pete Svarrior

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2022, 08:44:31 PM »
As for where this is going, I have no more idea than anyone else.  However its interesting to note that self driving cars was thought to be pretty doable, we'll have this working in just a few years.  But it turns out its a lot harder than originally thought.  It would not surprise me if we find that creating art (as something that inspires that touches people etc) is in a similar class.
This is an interesting point, and of course part of the issue here is that "art" is a very broad spectrum of things, ranging from works meant to inspire to more mundane things like, I dunno, the cover image for an opinion piece on a news site.

That latter half of the spectrum is important, because it's a somewhat reliable source of income. It's a safety net for someone who wants to get into (visual) arts - maybe they'll make it big, or maybe they'll live a comfortable enough life creating something that might not make them the next Michaelangelo, but which provides clear value to society. In my opinion, it's that safety net that's currently at risk.

To try and illustrate that point, here are a couple of AI-generated oil paintings of Trump, currently on fire*:



Now, is this revolutionary art that's going to inspire generations? Of course not. But could it be used as the cover of the next WaPo article about how Trump is a criminal? Yeah, probably. So, if an idiot like me can spit that out of a generator without having to pay for a stock photo or a comissioned art piece, what's stopping large companies from never commissioning artwork again?

* - I should note that while DALL-E 2 is supposed to be restricted from generating images relating to real people, those restrictions are terrible.
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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2022, 08:55:09 PM »
As for where this is going, I have no more idea than anyone else.  However its interesting to note that self driving cars was thought to be pretty doable, we'll have this working in just a few years.  But it turns out its a lot harder than originally thought.  It would not surprise me if we find that creating art (as something that inspires that touches people etc) is in a similar class.
This is an interesting point, and of course part of the issue here is that "art" is a very broad spectrum of things, ranging from works meant to inspire to more mundane things like, I dunno, the cover image for an opinion piece on a news site.

That latter half of the spectrum is important, because it's a somewhat reliable source of income. It's a safety net for someone who wants to get into (visual) arts - maybe they'll make it big, or maybe they'll live a comfortable enough life creating something that might not make them the next Michaelangelo, but which provides clear value to society. In my opinion, it's that safety net that's currently at risk.

To try and illustrate that point, here are a couple of AI-generated oil paintings of Trump, currently on fire*:



Now, is this revolutionary art that's going to inspire generations? Of course not. But could it be used as the cover of the next WaPo article about how Trump is a criminal? Yeah, probably. So, if an idiot like me can spit that out of a generator without having to pay for a stock photo or a comissioned art piece, what's stopping large companies from never commissioning artwork again?

* - I should note that while DALL-E 2 is supposed to be restricted from generating images relating to real people, those restrictions are terrible.
Yes, this.

I also write for funsies, but that's not the issue. AI generated art doesn't take anything away from me wanting to create something for my own enjoyment. But it does cause potential issue with artists who rely on creating as either a full time or part time job. Artists already struggle to get compensated fairly for their time and effort.

And with automation already taking away non-artistic jobs, then what will be left in the future?

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Offline xasop

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2022, 09:23:13 PM »
And with automation already taking away non-artistic jobs, then what will be left in the future?
Maybe automation taking away all our jobs is the sign we need to stop having a job being the basis of our entire civilisation.
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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2022, 09:47:51 PM »
And with automation already taking away non-artistic jobs, then what will be left in the future?
Maybe automation taking away all our jobs is the sign we need to stop having a job being the basis of our entire civilisation.
You'd need a civilization that cares about people first.

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Offline Tom Bishop

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2022, 04:01:22 PM »
And with automation already taking away non-artistic jobs, then what will be left in the future?

What makes you think that the job of media painter/artist should even exist? If you want to paint then paint. It is ridiculous to demand that you are paid for the things you enjoy doing.

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Offline markjo

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2022, 05:08:35 PM »
And with automation already taking away non-artistic jobs, then what will be left in the future?

What makes you think that the job of media painter/artist should even exist? If you want to paint then paint. It is ridiculous to demand that you are paid for the things you enjoy doing.
There is a big difference between painting/art as a hobby and painting/art as a business.  Just look around your house at just about any product and you will see the work of any number of artists.
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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2022, 06:11:59 PM »
And with automation already taking away non-artistic jobs, then what will be left in the future?
It is ridiculous to demand that you are paid for the things you enjoy doing.
So you should only get a job you don't like?

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2022, 08:04:00 PM »
It is ridiculous to demand that you are paid for the things you enjoy doing.

no one is suggesting otherwise, and you already know that.

dude can you please just take your bad-faith arguments to another thread? i started this one for genuine discussion, not for more "tim says silly thing and everyone takes the bait." we've got like a dozen of those threads already.
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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2022, 09:25:58 PM »
I think it’s very cool that AI can make such aesthetically pleasing works and can see that they will likely take over a huge segment of creative business, like graphic design. Like Xasop said, this doesn’t need to be a tragedy, but instead it’s a signal that we should reconsider the paradigm we organize ourselves under socially. Production has been the end goal for so many centuries that it’s become a given, but if we can take up other ends AIs can help us in many new ways.

There is also something that an artist offers that AIs can not yet compete with, and that is a context from which their work emerges. As a manifestation of an artists experiences, their work becomes something deeply personal that evokes audiences’ emotions because of empathy. So AI art and human art will be able to coexist in parallel but there will be a new equilibrium.
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Offline BillO

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2022, 12:45:29 AM »
It's quite amazing that AI has reached this level of sophistication, and from  a strictly technical perspective it is extremely attractive.  However, I feel the impact on human culture will be minimal for now.  Commercial artists may see a downturn in low paying work and it may even extend into commercial photography.  However, the real patrons of visual art will not be interested in hanging some AI produced soulless image on their walls.

I had a discussion about this a few months ago with my sister who illustrates children's books for a living.  She says it has not yet had an impact on her work.  The writers want to be able to communicate with the artists, work out the look and feel of the images and ensure that carries though the entire work.

Thing is though, AI produced art is only the beginning.  It will eventually make headway into all intellectual endeavors, and at some point it will get better at them than us.  I guess humanity has a choice.  Embrace it and find a new role for ourselves, or fight it.  I think we will choose the former as we always have when machines were given the jobs we used to do.
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Offline Pete Svarrior

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Re: machine-generated art (DALL-E, Imagen, Midjourney, etc.)
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2022, 07:42:05 PM »
However, the real patrons of visual art will not be interested in hanging some AI produced soulless image on their walls.
I mean, you're obviously correct there. However, I still worry that this changes the threat model for potential artists. Currently, you'll either make it big or you'll live an OK life producing art for commercial use - the kind that doesn't appeal to "the real patrons", but which clearly has its place in the world.

If AI were to take that segment over, your threat model becomes "you'll either make it big, or, uh, enjoy wasting half of your life becoming an expert at something nobody wants". How many people are going to take that risk?
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