Would the Mona Lisa have been as popular if it was created by Artificial Intelligence? Consider people traveling from all over the world to the Louvre. They would go there to see the Mona Lisa, painted by AI. It wouldn’t be the same, because the meaning and beauty of the art comes from the artist that created it. The detail, talent, and time that is spent on an art piece makes it especially valuable to humans. So what is the point of AI even trying? The popularity of AI art has skyrocketed recently, but not without controversy and backlash from real artists of the world. Trends on TikTok and Instagram of people using the AI generators to make art came and went, yet the AI stayed put. This is a problem. While the technology behind AI is brilliant, along with the art it can create, the way it trained itself to be so intelligent is immoral.
Popular websites like DALL-E 2 and Hotpot AI can generate infinite amounts of art pieces from absolutely anything imaginable. Combinations of things never seen before, with the only limit being human imagination. And not only that, it can make art in the precise style of any artist. So, how did it get so advanced?
The AI algorithms work by studying millions of pieces of art from various artists in every era. It has trained itself on the methodologies of countless individuals and can now mimic their art nearly perfectly. AI profits off of stolen techniques by making people purchase the art, or subscribe to access it. And worst of all, the artists that were used for their unique style get no money, no credit, and no acknowledgement that their technique was used.
Some have come to the conclusion that AI is doing nothing wrong. Those promoting these art generators call it “inspiration,” and compare it to artists learning techniques from other artists. However, they discount the fact that those artists are still human, and they went through the trials of actually learning how to do the art, rather than simply being programmed to copy and paste. Imagine an artist that spent years studying, finally perfecting their unique technique, only to find out that an AI website swept all of their pieces and started rapidly producing art that looked just like theirs. Only it’s not imagination, it’s a reality for many artists.
Artists have not been silent in their discontent about this ordeal. For Amy Stelladia, a comic artist that worked for Disney Hyperion, it’s frustrating to find out that their art has been used by AI. As Stelladia told The Daily Beast, “most of the constant effort I put on my work just goes down the drain.” To put so much hard work into a piece just for it to be effortlessly replicated and sold is disheartening, especially without any credit or consent.
The thing that makes art so special is that there is raw human emotion and experience behind it. When a robot can make any piece of art by the mere tap of a keyboard, it robs all of the meaning out of it. A painting that would have taken an artist weeks or even months to create can now be made by AI in less than five seconds. If artists could make infinite masterpieces, art would be boring and insignificant.
AI will never kill the artist because it will never be an artist. As advanced as it may get, it will never experience the world. Artists have soul, life, and the beauty of human error, all displayed in their art. And that is the one thing a robot can’t have.