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Artists Replaced By Robots? Everyone's a Patron Now

Generative image artificial intelligences, trained on uncounted millions of images created by human artists, now threaten to replace the humans. This technology is still under development; as sf writers point out "a schizoid painting is bound to ensue" in some conditions (see FL Wallace quote below).

In minutes or hours, apps such as Stable Diffusion and Midjourney can churn out polished, detailed images based on text prompts — and they do it for a few dollars or for free. They are faster and cheaper than any human can be, and while their images still have problems — a certain soullessness, perhaps, an excess of fingers, tumors that sprout from ears — they are already good enough to have been used for the book covers and editorial illustration gigs that are many illustrators’ bread and butter.

They are improving at an astounding rate. Though some AI fans give lip service to the idea that this technology is meant to help artists, it is, in fact, a replacement, as explicit as the self-acting spinning mule, a machine commissioned by British factory bosses in 1825 to break the power of striking textile workers.

These data sets were not ethically obtained. LAION sucked up 5.8 billion images from around the internet, from art sites such as DeviantArt, and even from private medical records. I found my art and photos of my face on their databases. They took it all without the creator’s knowledge, compensation or consent.

Once LAION had scraped up all this work, it handed it over to for-profit companies — such as Stability AI, the creator of the Stable Diffusion model — which then trained their AIs on artists’ pirated work. Type in a text prompt, like “Spongebob Squarepants drawn by Shepard Fairey,” and the AI mashes together art painstakingly created over lifetimes, then spits out an image, sometimes even mimicking an artist’s signature.


I responded in this wise to the post pointing this out (from @bruces). The Craiyon image uses the prompt "Rocket to the moon in the style of Miro and Goya".

From the Paint-to-Order Robot Artist, from "The Music Master" (1953) by F.L. Wallace.

Update 22-Dec-2022: Apparently, the full instructions do provide a convincing scene:


End update.

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