AI the Artificial Intelligence
By the Editors, Comic Book Brain
The trauma of artificial intelligence artwork is affecting every area of the artwork industry, and comic books are no different. The gimmick part of AI is understandable: what's bizarre, good, bad or just plain new has a chance of grabbing attention and being a viable market in the industry of image-making.
But the AI phenomenon goes well beyond that because it fuses together all that attention-getting plus the general obsession of the modern world with technology, implies any person with a computer and access to AI could theoretically start generating great art. Does this mean AI could be on the cusp of rather boldly marching into the house of already existing employed and livelihood earning artists and burn the place down around their ears?
The Ethical Problem
There are legitimate ethical problems of a person (or a company) feeding already created art made by other people into an AI program which then alters the inputs and combines them and outputs art that is obviously derived from something that already exists but is changed enough to be safe (probably) from copyright infringement enforcement. The debilitating effect on artist's livelihood is the obvious fear now circulating through the industry, that artists could get into a bizarre situation of competing against their own style being generated (copied) through a computer program.
The urgency of this problem is quite real, because in fields of artwork creation, most artists already exist in a fringe-world where good income is difficult and getting ripped-off is already an ongoing problem. The AI industry is that problem put on steroids.
The Impact of AI Art
The worst possible impact of the current scope of AI intrusion into the art world would be the creation of a nightmare environment where commercial businesses no longer use actual artists, but just technicians to loot the extensive artwork rich past, synthesizing and mixing parts together, but the end result will be an astoundingly stunted culture that is a Frankenstein monster made up of dead moments from out of the history of art.
Perhaps the best impact will be the obvious utility of AI for creating the sort of artworks that are beneficial in a direct way and has nothing to do with the usual emotional or metaphysical explanations for why there even "is" art. For example the practical applications:
- Medical illustrations for the purpose of training (this of course steps directly onto the toes of the already existing cadre of medical-art professionals).
- Mechanical cutaway art that helps with the production of manufacturing and repair of devices, machines, automobiles, aeroplanes, satellites, etc. "How to" artists will be affected, of course.
No doubt there will be/are astounding images created through AI. In a way, that's not really the question: the fear right now is that human beings who make art are going to be made obsolete, to fall into a neutral-zone like that of the pre-civil war United States when the economy (especially in the South) was distorted and warped by the fact that slave-labor is much cheaper in cost than paying the non-slave who became simply non-viable to work in fields, on roads, etc., in the areas where manual labour was utilized. The end result was that day labourers in the South were fleeing to find some other place where they were competitive enough to earn a living.
The gut-reaction of some is to want a sort of outlawing of AI art. That's not possible, and an examination of the past shows that a Luddite response never succeeds in the end, the "new way" always inevitably rolls over the "old way" when it comes to efficiency toward earning power within industrialization.
The world of boutique art creation is probably where AI will have the least effect. Directly engaging with a creator is already the dominating novelty in that area, and it doesn't really allow for the AI intrusion since Boutique Art is often an obvious escape from the industrial and technological worlds which AI art is likely the prime example of, the de-humanization of human life. To make AI viable here, it'll have to either be hidden from view like the Wizard of Oz, or be re-defined as an entity worthy of "fans," another long-shot because detecting the false (mechanical) versus the human (sincere) is a regular activity of the modern age.
The other reaction is regulation. Again the problem is efficiency toward earning power will again triumph in the end, not because the contingent of artists won't have enough of a voice, but because as history shows, industry direction always goes toward efficiency plus quality.
It might be a long haul until AI can convincingly "draw" hands and feet and not make the hilarious mistakes in form creation that currently is a hallmark of AI art, but eventually a thoroughly convincing image will be possible against the highest standards. The dilemma remains that AI is like the Abomination of Desolation in the Temple in Jerusalem, an AI "god" that seems real, can even kill, but is not alive. The current problem in the AI-vs-real-artists debate is this combat in small, that AI will kill living artists' livelihoods.