Artificial Intelligence can generate art in seconds, but at what cost?
Written By: Seher Allahbachayo
What makes a work of ‘art’ worthy of an exhibit? There have always been unconventional art pieces that test this question, such as the notorious urinal Marcel Duchamp submitted for an exhibition in 1917. However, a new contender in this ongoing debate has entered the ring: Artificial Intelligence.
Throughout the years, the intersection between artificial intelligence and the realm of art has evolved. When AI art first began in the 1950s and 60s, computer algorithms were simply used to generate patterns and shapes. Then, in the 1970s and 80s, a major change occurred: artist Harold Cohen developed a set of algorithms known as AARON that allowed computers to adapt to the erratic and unpredictable style of freehand drawing. This opened the gate to complex and abstract drawings of humans, rocks, and a plethora of other subjects.
Nowadays, AI art has become massively mainstream and accessible to every novice. It comes at virtually no price, and after typing the desired theme, a cool and funky design is produced in a matter of seconds. After I tried it, this strange skepticism arose that it seemed too good to be true.
At face value, the portrait that was created when I used an AI art generator website looked incredible, and my mind refused to comprehend that this had been made by algorithms. After the disbelief and fascination wore off, reality sunk in. What would be its repercussions on the art industry and, in general, creativity?
If we can generate art in seconds, what is to say our appreciation of the beauty and ingeniousness of art pieces won’t decline? And with added controversies such as AI art-generated filters on TikTok and AI art submissions in actual competitions, there are worries about trained artists and creators losing employment opportunities in the face of cheaper, more efficient AI tools. Those are only the beginning of the increasing concerns about the fast art movement and its repercussions.
The reality is that, like a fair share of technology, AI art has its own set of pros and cons. Depending on the person you ask, AI art may be a great tool for innovation or a grim start to a technology takeover. Despite these debates, one must admit that machines are entering the art world, and they may be here to stay.