Machine’s forces to do art

Digital art is not a new concept, but breakthroughs in artificial intelligence have created a fresh setting in which all types of media may now be made without much human intervention. However, we must be cautious not to conflate the many ethical problems involved. Is the uproar about the fairness of competitions or the future of art?

Allen, a video game creator, built his submission with the help of an artificial intelligence dubbed Midjourney. It generates visuals from written descriptions. Allen says he made hundreds of photos before settling on three. He then used Photoshop to do some extra tweaks before increasing the resolution using a program called Gigapixel. He competed in the digital arts category at the Colorado State Fair, which is described as “artistic activity that incorporates digital technology as part of the creative or presenting process.” Allen alleges that he notified the competitors that the picture was made using artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, the competition’s judges claim they were unaware. Nonetheless, they said that based on the work itself, they would have awarded it first place.

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While the outrage is understandable, it is unclear if everyone shares the same concerns for the same reasons.

Let us begin by addressing the contest’s first key ethical question: Was it improper for Allen to submit the AI-generated piece and be awarded the blue ribbon over other artists who made their works by hand? The concept of digital arts in the contest was wide enough that AI-created works were eligible.

Others may argue that Allen should not have entered the contest since he was not the artist; the piece of art was made by the artificial intelligence. Is the work created by the AI, or is it only a tool for Allen, the genuine artist, to manipulate?

Of course, the application of AI to a specific area and the danger it poses to the workforce is not limited to the realm of art. Legal and industry change may eventually reduce some of these concerns, but many artists will undoubtedly suffer, perhaps undermining the art sector as a whole.

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