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AI Content Generators: The Death of Art?

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Old Habits Die Hard

Whenever there is something new or something exciting, there will always be pushback from seasoned artisans—the old ways are better and should always be preferred.

This is common, especially for things that took years to achieve a certain level of quality or even perfection. It is a hard pill to swallow knowing that you went through the hard path to reach where you are today and then know about someone who, somehow, achieved the same level but took the easier path. Even if they did not cheat, it will always feel like cheating.

Take for example the traditional artists who, for years, developed and practiced their brush strokes. They studied different techniques to get the right color combinations. Then came digital painting. Of course it still takes a lot of effort to produce digital artwork, but there are some skills omitted or shortcuts taken which are not possible for traditional painters.

At the end of the day, your output says it all. The process behind the scenes, in reality, is usually just important to the maker, fellow developer, and some diehard fans; seldom does it matter to the regular user.

I am also guilty when it comes to this mentality. I questioned the skills of new programmers who only attended boot camps or were self-taught. Some of them only took a few specialized courses, many times skipping some of the basics that I had to study for years. I also shy away from programmers who prefer to use bloated plugins rather than implementing their own solution more suitable to the project.

In time, I learned to accept these programmers because to some extent, they were right for not reinventing the wheel. There are also deadlines creeping behind you. We try to follow the best practices as much as possible, but at the end of the day, your output says it all. The process behind the scenes, in reality, is usually just important to the maker, fellow developer, and some diehard fans; seldom does it matter to the regular user.

Hatred Against AI

In business, it is usually the client that dictates what the content is, and since AI outputs are continuously getting closer to the human-made product, it is easy to feel frustrated. That feeling of being misrepresented, I believe, is the main fuel of the burning desire to stop AI.

Of course there are the legal issues, but I think those are merely a facade covering the true cause of these protests. I imagine that is the case because even after solving the copyright issues, the ethical challenge remains.

What started as a fun tool suddenly became a threat ... AI art is almost identical to human art, therefore most artists will have a difficult time competing with AI.

Let us take a look at the early 2022. I have seen a lot of posts appreciating AI art. Most programmers — at least within my network — are very excited about it. Then later of the same year, there was a sudden burst of hatred against AI. There could be a lot of other reasons, but what I saw was a sudden panic because of how fast these AI image generators "learned" to mimic the human creative process.

What started as a fun tool suddenly became a threat because, as I have mentioned earlier, the user or the viewer decides the value of a piece. With the latest updates, AI art is almost identical to human art; therefore most artists will have a difficult time competing with AI.

Moving Forward

History dictates that even with this amount of objections, technological development will be here to stay. Countless manual labor jobs have already been replaced by machineries and automation. Outside the internet we have factories, store checkouts, car drivers, and many more that are being automated. However, not all hope is lost.

As long as there is a need for human interaction; as long as we have passion and nostalgia, human creators will stick around.

It probably won't be as abundant as today, but I think human creatives will survive. I say this because we still have handmade crafts even if 3D printing is a thing. Hand-painting still exists given the abundance of photographers. People still listen to classical and acoustic music; even vinyl records made a comeback. We also have the case where gamers still prefer clever human opponents rather than fighting enemy bots.

I know this is far from reassuring, but as long as there is a need for human interaction, as long as we have passion and nostalgia, human creators will stick around.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2023 Brian