There is a massive backlash against AI art these days, and it’s justified!
Illustrators who have spent their lives learning a craft see their livelihoods at risk, as media now has the option to turn to artificially generated images that cost next to nothing. To add insult to injury, these images are artificial “mashups” of art created by humans, but the humans receive no credit or royalty. And inevitably, AI art just doesn’t look as good as art made by hand, just as CGI animation will never measure up to hand-drawn.
Most of the focus has been on AI illustration or painting, till this week, when “photographs” of Donald Trump being arrested by police and the Pope in a puffy jacket went viral. The Trump photo engendered skepticism for a variety of reasons (the hands in the photos were a giveaway), but the Pope photo was widely believed.
Most of the commentary surrounding this has focused on the risk of fakery; no one has mentioned the risk this presents to the stock photo business! Those photographs that you see over and over again. If Audere wanted to run a story focused on the workplace, there are numerous photos we could use from a subscription service like Getty Images.
Or, we could just use this, for free.
You know it is fake, because I told you, so you were not fooled, but you might have been fooled otherwise. I entered a few key words into a prompt, and after a bit of editing, I had a workplace stock photo to illustrate a magazine story, and which you won’t see anywhere else.
Take, for example, the photograph that illustrates this story, above.
I visited the Edward Hopper exhibit at the Whitney a few weeks ago, and as I looked at a few of the paintings, I wondered what they might have looked like as photos.
This is what “Automat” might have looked like as a photo. I made it black and white, since it would probably have been black and white if it were a photograph taken in 1927, which is when the painting was done. Also, in black and white, the image’s imperfections are obscured.
I posted it on social media, and I thought my description made it clear enough that it was not “real.” But still, people were fooled, they asked me where I took the picture, who the woman is, logistics and so on.
“So how did you set that image up?” an artist wrote to me. “You sought out Hopper’s diner? Dressed a friend? Waited for right time of day for light? Took several exposures?”
It is unlikely that a photograph of a public figure or any other real person would survive scrutiny for very long, but anonymous photos like these could blend into the public realm, and be widely assumed as authentic. We would soon lose touch with reality, a bit.
While we’re at it, have you heard about AI porn?
It’s a brave new world.
This article is by Steven S. Drachman. Drachman is the author of a science fiction trilogy, The Strange and Astounding Memoirs of Watt O’Hugh the Third, which is available in paperback from your local bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble; it is also available as a Kindle e-book.