Science & Tech

AI-Generated Art: The Human Capture Paradox

Around the end of last year, Lensa-generated images of online users were trending on social media. Lensa, a subscription app, creates graphic portraits known as “Magic Avatar” images from selfies uploaded by its users. As AI gains a strong foothold in the realm of art, do we have mechanisms in place to define what is right and wrong in this domain in the first place?

The Lensa app case

  • Lensa, a subscription app, creates graphic portraits known as Magic Avatar images from selfies uploaded by its users.
  • Celebrities from around the world stepped in to demonstrate how they looked so perfect in their Lensa avatars.
  • However, a few days later, hundreds of female netizens around the world began reporting problems with their avatars. They emphasised how their avatar images showed their waists snatched and sultry poses.
  • Lensa generated hypersexualized, semi-pornographic images even after these women uploaded different pictures.

How does Artificial Intelligence generate art?

  • Algorithms based on textual prompts are used: AI art refers to any form of art created using Artificial Intelligence. As the first step, it employs algorithms that learn a specific aesthetic based on textual prompts and then sift through vast amounts of data in the form of available images.
  • Algorithms generate new images: The algorithm then attempts to generate new images that correspond to the aesthetics that it has learned.
  • Artists’ roles with right keystrokes: The artist takes on the role of a curator, inputting the appropriate prompt to create an aesthetically pleasing output. While artists use brush strokes in other digital platforms such as Adobe Photoshop, keystrokes are all that is required in programmes such as Dall-E and Midjourney.
  • For example, consider the digital generation of an artwork such as Starry Night. While it would have taken Van Gogh days to conceptualise and achieve the right strokes and paint, in the AI art era, it is simply a matter of the right textual prompts.

Is it truly capable of capturing the essence of humanity?

  • The impact of AI-generation on the public’s perception of art: Art is one of the few activities that adds meaning to one’s life. It remains to be seen whether AI-generated art will alienate the masses from the art experience.
  • AI takes away the joy of creating artwork: Artificial intelligence-generated art dehumanises artworks. Making an artwork is perhaps the most satisfying aspect of creating it.
  • Concerns about AI’s ability to detect subtle human emotions: It is also questionable whether AI art will be able to capture the most subtle of human emotions. How much humour is considered “humorous” for AI? Can AI express grief and pain in the profound ways that our poets have described? Can artificial intelligence capture Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile, which gives the impression that she is shrouded in mystery?

Arguments in favour of this type of art

  • Midjourney generated Thatre D opera Spatial: Last year, when an entry called “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” generated from Midjourney (an artificial intelligence programme) by Jason M Allen won the Blue Ribbon at the Colorado State Fair, the question of whether AI art is causing “a death of artistry” was raised.
  • Finding appropriate prompts is a genius art: AI artists such as Allen believe that finding appropriate prompts to create an artwork constitutes creativity and qualifies AI art as genuine or authentic.
  • AI has the potential to democratise the art world: Some artists believe that AI art has the potential to democratise the art world by removing gatekeepers.

Concerns about data biases

  • There is bias in the data available for AI inputs due to a lack of representation of women, people of colour, and other marginalised groups in less privileged communities.
  • The majority of training data for AI art is currently generated in the Global North and is frequently tainted by ableism, racism, and sexism stereotypes.
  • Historically, art has served a political function by serving as a forum for dissent. Can AI art overcome data’s inherent biases to foster meaningful political engagement?

@the end

AI-generated art can introduce new ideas and possibilities to the art world, but it is important to consider how it may alter people’s perceptions of art and whether it eliminates the human touch. It is also worth considering whether AI can truly capture the emotions that make art so special. It’s best to approach AI-generated art with an open mind and consider both the positive and negative aspects.

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