Episode 600 - AI is bad at art

Sep 12, 2022

here's a lot of buzz about so called AI generated art at the moment using programs like Dall-E, Neural blender, Dream studio lite and so on. People use text prompts, i.e. “flying clockwork fish balloon” and the AI generates “art” based upon that. It usually does this by using actual art and photography created by real people, and visually mixing them to create a new image. Some results are much better than others.

Topics and Show Notes

The main issue with the approach is that the AI like all AI is dumb: it has no awareness, no understanding, it can't think, it can only serve up the most superficial interpretation of the prompt text. 100% of the “meaning” or “art” a viewer sees in that image is their own imagining, this in itself is never a good indication of art. But this also means that the AI has no capacity to understand the visual language it's speaking so it just provides you with a poor facsimile of art, which is all it can ever do due to inherent limitations.

For example, ask it to create a pirate image based on certain parameters. All it will be able to do is create a pastiche of already created images on the subject, like a bad deviant art image by a poor artist. A good human artist would think about the subject in terms of the ethnicity of the pirates, the type of vessel they use, how ratty or decorated their clothes are due to their time at sea, the body hair, tattoos, piercings and injuries on the pirates, the time of day and where the light comes from, the style of clothes and weapons due to the period, geography, and culture of the pirates etc. All that means something and will have a significant influence on the image (you can apply this to any other scenario too), while AI can only produce generic pretend art.

Unfortunately people don't understand these significant limitations and expect AI to do more than it can, (in all fields, not just art). AI is a useful tool when used correctly and when you properly understand its limitations, but when you don't it creates havoc. Which is why AI assisted systems tend to be so shit- like auto-correct spellcheckers, Google search algorithms, Facebook and Instagram image checkers, YouTube copyright checkers, “smart” chat-bots that big companies use as help systems etc. If we have people mistakenly thinking AI can replace artists or graphic designers, then we're in for a tsunami of boring, generic, meaningless design and the world will be a blander place because of it.

Try not to be fooled by the “idea” of art, when you see an AI generated image remember there was no thought behind it, no meaning to the placement of figures, style of clothes, body posture, mistakes etc, and the stylistic choices are simply stolen from human artists. It's a system that specialises in creating pointless parody pastiches.

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to Brittany Hyperstyle - Bouncy, pop bubblegum bubbles of light and joy floating, rising and falling in sweet smelling convection currents. This sound is pink and powder blue with a sheen of iridescence. Synth electronica that’s fun, light and happy!

Topics and shownotes

Links
Forum discussion that inspired the topic - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/forum/topic/179155/?page=1#latest/
Dream studio lite - https://beta.dreamstudio.ai/dream/


Featured comic:
Vast as the Night - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2022/sep/06/featured-comic-vast-as-the-night/

Featured music:
Brittany Hyperstyle - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Brittany_Hyperstyle/ - by Shampoo Venom, rated T.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
PitFace - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/

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comment

anonymous?

Stahlberg at 11:57AM, Sept. 14, 2022

Check this out, re-lighting AI images already possible. Every week, almost every day, some new capability comes out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XSoX5KBlcY

Shampoo_Venom at 5:32AM, Sept. 14, 2022

Thanks so much for the shoutout on Brittany Hyperstyle and the theme song was cute and funky. It really suits the comic. And I agree with the AI being bad at art. It reminds me of the Banksy documentary Exit Through the Giftshop. People can just imitate art and give an illusion of depth and substance, and most people unfortunately can’t tell the difference. AI is just imitating art and people are just projecting meaning onto it. But like Banky asked at the end of the doc…maybe art is just a joke?

Ozoneocean at 5:00AM, Sept. 14, 2022

As a graphic artist myself with a lot of years experience, it's been a bit different for me. When people want to pay for an illustration they tend to have something very specific in mind and they're willing to pay for quality.

Stahlberg at 12:05AM, Sept. 14, 2022

@Ozoneocean it does almost do that now, check out the latest videos on youtube. Stable Diffusion for photo-realism, and MidJourney for painterly stuff. Anyway I've never had clients be that specific with their prompts The key is the money. Because the profit motive rules supreme, if the choice is between an illustration that isn't exactly what they had in mind, and paying a thousand times more, clients will always choose the cheaper option. Always. Unless it's a small company led by an artist, in which case that company will soon be bankrupt and replaced by a more money-sensitive one. So, it WILL start to replace artists. It already started, I know at least one artist who lost a gig to an AI recently.

Ozoneocean at 7:31PM, Sept. 13, 2022

@Stahlberg One of the points I'm making is that because the systems are inherently stupid "they have to understanding of what they're doing), human artists have a huge edge. People are dazzled right now because of the pretty pictures, which is what people are always prone to do- we see something finished and we think "WOW" and imagine it can do so much more than it can- lucky for us it can't. i.e. - I want that figure in a 1730 coat, not a 1740 coat, the arm should be raised slightly, I need them heavier set, in their 40s, back-lighting on the face and not on the chest, I need them to communicate anger with their posture... -That's not what the AI does. We have to realise it's a useful tool and not an artist replacement.

Stahlberg at 8:59AM, Sept. 13, 2022

It's not pointless period pastiches to the client who wants an illustration cheap and quick - possibly even completely free or practically free - and each iteration finished in minutes, maybe seconds. As opposed to me taking a week to do the same thing, asking for 2000$US, and to the client doesn't even look better. In fact some clients might say, my art looks less appealing than the AI's. See the point here isn't "What is art", but "How the fuck will us trained professional artists be able to support our families in a few years?". I'll always make art, even if I'm not paid for it, even if AI's completely take over. That goes without saying. It's my passion, my life. But it's also my job, the only one I'm good at, and if this tech grows like it has, just a little bit more, I have to start looking into welding or nursing or sales. Some people now usually reply, "Learn coding!" or "Become a prompt writer!" To that I say, no thanks.


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