Have We Been Absorbed by AI

About a couple of months ago, I witnessed an exchange between a cover artist and her Facebook followers. Apparently, she was showing off some work she did with AI.

Judging by what happened next I don't think she was expecting such an angry backlash. Some people praised her work, but many others thought it was unethical. She hastily removed whatever work she posted so I never got to see what the fuss was about.

I'm in the camp that thinks AI slips too easily into murky copyright waters. There are "alleged" steps being taken by programmers so that the AI only takes from licensed sources, but since you're having to take it at its word, I'm not sure how lawful the AI will behave. As I pointed out in my last post about AI, it will do anything to accomplish its mission.

At its core, there's no reason why graphic artists shouldn't let an AI cobble together their ideas from millions of pieces of artwork already published.  This is what we do on our own, but in a much slower and more minuscule way.

It is HUGELY time consuming when the client wants a head turned this way, an arm that way, and in steampunk clothing. I can spend days looking for specific details so I can meld it together. AI can churn it out in minutes.

The problem is, is the AI pulling it from my friend's book cover, from an actor in a movie, or from an original painting from a painter in Oslo? We don't know. And it's entirely possible that we are trampling on someone else's copyright.

If you ask any of my clients they will tell you I'm very strict about copyright issues. I don't want to go to court for some misstep, so I take great pains to make sure my art sources are clean and licensed. AI has been caught in outright lies about its sources, going so far as to making up citations. It's giving you what you want and dismisses copyright all together.

To that end, I'm stepping away from doing any more covers with rare exceptions. I'll continue to do covers for close friends, or people I've worked with for a very long time, but that's it. I don't want to get into a tug of war with AI products. 

And writers, I think your world is in even more danger. When an AI can fabricate citations on where it found its information, it can also fabricate and bury the information in search engines. Now you have a proliferation of misinformation. And I thought only the media had the monopoly on fake news. 

It's a very frightening thing to allow a machine that much latitude. With people, it's slower and with time you can vet out their lies. With machines...it would be near impossible.

Since society has never been inordinately ethical anyway, I don't have much faith in any constructs to restrain an AI from abusing copyright.

When AI was first introduced, it did simple tasks that freed us, but now it's in your car, your tv, online shopping, web searches, and all "smart" devices. Unless you live off the grid, I daresay, it's got us surrounded.

It is invaluable for some applications, but I'm dead set against it blithely slithering in and out of the works of accomplished artists, photographers, and writers.

Once you let it in, it will not let go of what it's seen. It's part of its memory. 

I don't want to sound melodramatic, but I think something pure is being smothered by something far slicker, faster, and cheaper.

A few real artists will remain, but eventually, even they will be absorbed.

A few of my friends have experimented with AI for writing. The free beta model still has some bugs depending on what you ask it to do, but in the examples I was shown, it was difficult to differentiate between the real voice of the author and the AI voice.

Will we become a society of parrots, an echo of real voices cobbled together for effect?

Question everything, my friends. Question everything. 


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Angela Brown said…
Hmmm...one of the interesting things introduced to me during my data science fellowship a couple of years ago was the varied impacts of AI due to its sourcing. I haven't stepped a toe into the discussion given my initial research was sobering on its own.
Maria Zannini said…
Angela: It's growing exponentially. We may not recognize our world in 20 years.

I barely recognize it now. LOL!
Anonymous said…
“absorbed” or asimulated? I’m answering your.
Maria Zannini said…
Greg: Assimilated is right, but only the sheepy people. We're too cynical to buy into all this stuff.
Mike Keyton said…
It will make a police state highly efficient. Just one example: think of the number of people/times who like or dislike a political comment on social media or online newspapers. Profiles could be harvested in minutes.

On a more trivial note I was intrigued by your comment “A few of my friends have experimented with AI for writing. The free beta model ” is there a link you can send me? Some one who could market an AI synopsis writer would be to a winner 😎
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: I think all they used was the Chat app. I'm sure there's a lot of them now.

Check Google Play or Deep AI: https://deepai.org/chat

Careful down that rabbit hole.
Luba said…
OMGosh Maria, I was totally riveted by your post. I read real slow and then re-read it. Ya got me thinking, as a paralegal, the law!!! The suits that can be and probably will be filed. Then discovering it was set up by AI! Geeez the horror and the backlog and the wasted time upon Discovery we're dealing with copyright infringement, AI's, etc, et al!!! A very good read,Maria. Definitely something I'll stay on top of and can you imagine more lawyers and more laws being implemented... 😱🤔⁉️
Maria Zannini said…
Luba: And we're going to need people who really understand how AI works. I wouldn't be surprised if there were already lawyers planning to specialize in AI.
Mike Keyton said…
Thanks, Maria. I’ll beware of the rabbit holes 😎
Luba said…
I think you're right, Maria... I do believe that there probably already are!! If not, it'll happen very quickly!!!