How long will it be to see with the naked eye the difference between images created by generative artificial intelligence and works of art created by humans? Ari Melenciano, an artist at Google Creative Lab, squints at her computer screen during our Zoom chat and scans artwork created with generative AI. “I mean, now I can barely tell the difference,” she says.
The public release of artificial intelligence art tools such as Midjourney and DALL-E 2 has sparked fierce controversy among artists, designers and art lovers alike. Many are critical of the fact that the rapid advancement of technology has been driven by a scouring of the internet in search of publicly posted art and images without credit or compensation to the artists who had their work stolen. “I think the current model of AI art generators is unethical because of the way they collected their data – contrary to the knowledge of basically everyone involved,” says Jared Krichevskyconcept artist who designed the commemorative AI bot for M3GAN movie.
Several artists continue to express anger at their original craftsmanship powering AI generators without informed consent. “Their work is entered into the machine against their will,” says Krichevsky. “This machine is specifically designed to replace us.” The companies behind the AI generators will soon face court to defend themselves copyright infringement claims.
Despite legal issues, the widespread use of artistic AI tools continues to cause confusion. When a digital artist recently posted his work on Reddit, he was blamed by moderator r/Art publishing an AI-generated image. Can you still tell, one way or another, at a glance? “For the average person, I feel there isn’t much time left before they can’t tell the difference,” says Ellie Prittsan artist who uses several forms of generative AI in his work.
People often joke online that you can’t look too closely at hands in AI art or you’ll find bizarre finger configurations. “The eyes can be a little quirky too,” says Logan Preshaw, a concept artist who condemns the use of modern artificial intelligence tools. He says, “Maybe they’re just dead and staring into space, or they have a weird build.” Logan doesn’t expect the little clues that the average viewer can use to identify AI art won’t stick around either. Many of the artists we spoke with agreed that such telltale signs will become less obvious as technology advances, and the developers of these tools are adapting them to address common complaints such as blind eyes and too many fingers.
Dan Eder, a 3D character artist, believes viewers should consider the overall design of a piece when trying to find an AI image. “Let’s say it was a ‘fantasy warrior armor’ situation. At first glance, the work looks beautiful and very detailed, but in most cases there is no logic behind it,” he says. “When a concept artist creates armor for a character, there are a few things to consider: functionality, placement of limbs, how much they will stretch.”