Artificial intelligence is coming for commercial technical jobs. Can it be turned off?

Earlier this summer, a piece created by an AI app to convert text to image Won an award at the State Art Fair Competition, opening Pandora’s box of issues about the encroachment of technology into human creativity and the nature of art itself. As cool as these questions are, the rise of AI-based image tools like Dall-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion, which quickly generate beautifully detailed images based on user-provided text descriptions, raises an even more practical and immediate concern: They carry a shiny, realistic dagger into the throats of hundreds of thousands of commercial artists working in the entertainment, video game, advertising and publishing industries, according to a number of professionals who have worked with technology.

How does this affect the global creative economy working on stunning images? Think of the 10 minute credits at the end of every recent Hollywood movie. 95 percent of these names are people who work in visual image creation such as special effects, animation, and production design. Same with video games, where commercial artists hone their skills for years to score plum jobs as idea artist and character designer.

These jobs, along with more traditional tasks like illustration, photography, and design, are how most visual artists get paid in today’s economy. The case even has international economic implications. Some production-oriented technical jobs are now being moved abroad to lower-wage markets, where they help stimulate creative industries in places like South Africa and Bangladesh.

Soon, all of this work will be able to be done by non-artists working with powerful AI-based tools capable of creating hundreds of images in every style imaginable in a matter of minutes — tools ostensibly and even seriously to enable everyday people to express their visual creativity. These tools are rapidly evolving in capabilities.

This is not an issue of a dystopian future. D-E (Microsoft Project
MSFT
– and the non-profit organization OpenAI backed by Elon Musk), Midjourney Others have been in limited posting for months, with photos posted all over the internet. Then in August, an open source project, Stable Diffusion from stable.ai, Publicly released her model set Under a Creative Commons license, giving anyone with a mid-range web browser or PC the tools to create stunning and sometimes confusing images of their specifications, including for commercial use.

It will allow more people with solid ideas and clear ideas to visualize things that would otherwise be difficult to achieve without years of technical training or hiring experienced artists,” said Jason Joan, veteran art director and artist for gaming and entertainment clients including Disney and Warner Brothers. High skills. The definition of art will also evolve, since presentation skills may not be the most important.”

Artists have noticed. Greg Rutkowski is a commercial illustrator in the toy industry, best known for his imaginative, vivid artwork for projects such as Hasbro’s
she has
Magic: The Gathering And the dungeons and dragons. Last week, according to the image search database AI Library.aiRutkowski’s name has appeared hundreds of thousands of times in instant image searches, which means hundreds of thousands of images have been created to sample his signature style.

“I’m very concerned about that,” Rutkowski said. “As a digital artist, or any artist, in this era, we’re focused on being known online. Right now, when you write in my name, you see more work from AI than I’ve done myself, which is terrifying to me.” How long does it take for AI to engulf my results and be indistinguishable from my work?”

Juan emphasized that human intervention is still important and necessary to achieve the desired results from any new technology, including artificial intelligence. No new invention will replace the existing industry immediately. It is a new medium and it will also grow a new ecosystem that will affect the existing industry in a way that we did not expect. But the impact will be very significant.”

David Holz, founder of Midjourney, emphasized this point exclusive interview. “Currently, our professional users are using the platform to design. The hardest part of [a commercial art project] It’s often in the beginning, when stakeholders don’t know what they want and have to see some ideas to engage with. Midjourney can help people come together around the idea they want more quickly, because iteration on these concepts is very daunting.”

Artists Shawn Michael Robinson and Carson Grupo, who publish a comic book called human abolition Using images generated by Grubaugh using the claims on the Midjourney platform, they are more pessimistic.

“The kind of work that I do, the single images and illustrations, has really disappeared because of this,” Robinson said. “Right now, AI has little trouble keeping images consistent, so sequential storytelling like comics still needs a lot of human intervention, but that’s likely to change.”

Grupo sees entire sectors of the creative workforce evaporating. “Concept artists, character designers, backgrounds, all of those things are gone. Once the creative director realizes they don’t need to pay people to produce this kind of work, it’ll be like what happened to darkroom technologies when Photoshop landed, but on a much larger scale” .

Grupo, who teaches art at the college level, says he despairs of the impact on the rising generation. “Honestly, I don’t even know what to say to the students now,” he said.

Robinson and Grubaugh recently interviewed acclaimed artist/illustrator Dave McKean, one of the early adopters of digital technologies in the 1990s, on the subject. “Why would anyone pay for an artist to design a book cover or album cover when you can just write a few words and get what you want?” McCain said. “This will feed an increasingly greedy marketing department that wants to see 50 sets of everything, and now they can have unlimited businesses. The financial imperative for that is inevitable.”

Holz strongly disagrees and believes that the platforms will ultimately benefit artists, businesses, and society. “I think some people will try to exclude artists. They will try to make something similar at a lower cost, and I think they will fail in the market. I think the market will go towards higher quality, more creativity.”

Despite the potential for disruption, even people in the industry who take advantage of automating creative work say the problems require legal clarification. “On the commercial side, we need some clarity about copyright before using AI-generated work rather than the work of a human artist,” Joan said. “The problem is that current copyright law is outdated and out of step with technology.”

Holes agrees that this is a gray area, especially because the data sets used to train Midjourney and other image models intentionally anonymize the work’s sources, and the process of authenticating images and artists is complex and cumbersome. “It would be great if the images had metadata embedded in them about the copyright holder, but that is nothing,” he said.

Rutkowski, who lives and works in Europe, believes that government action may be necessary to protect the interests of artists. “I understand how these programs use artwork and images to build their models, but there has to be some protection for living artists, those of us who are still doing work and advancing in our careers. It’s more than just an ethical issue. It should be regulated by law. It should be Our choice.”

Data scientist Daniela Braga is a member of the White House Task Force on Artificial Intelligence Policy and founder of Defined.AI, a company that trains data for cognitive services in human-computer interaction, mostly in applications such as call centers and chatbots. She said she had not thought about some of the commercial and ethical issues related to this particular application of AI and was upset by what she heard.

“They are training the AI ​​to do it without its consent? I need to show that to the White House desk,” she said. “If these models are trained in the styles of living artists without licensing this work, there are copyright implications. There are rules for that. And that requires a legislative solution.”

Regulation might be the only answer, Braga said, as it is not technically possible to “de-train” AI systems or create a program in which artists can opt out if their work is already part of the data set. “The only way to do that is to eliminate the entire model that was built around the use of non-sensitive data,” she explained.

The problem is that the source code for at least one of the platforms is already out in the wild and it would be very difficult to get the toothpaste back into the tube. And even if the narrow issue of compensating living artists is addressed, it will not solve the greater threat of a simple toolbox and demonization of the entire commercial art and illustration profession.

Holz doesn’t see it that way. He says his mission with Midjourney is to “try to expand the imaginative powers of the human race” and to enable more people to visualize ideas from their imaginations through art. He also confirmed that he sees Midjourney as a consumer-first platform.

OpenAI, the company behind the Dall-E product, which declined to be interviewed for this story, similarly positions itself as working to “ensure that AI benefits all of humanity”. Stability.ai, the company behind Stable Diffusion, describes its mission as “making modern machine learning accessible to people around the world.” StabilityAI also declined to comment.

“Whenever I hear people talk about ‘democratizing access’ and ‘transparency,’ I get concerned,” Grupo said. “What that usually means is that big companies are helping themselves with our data and using it to their advantage.”

The usual arguments in favor of AI are that systems automate repetitive tasks that humans don’t like anyway, such as answering the same customer questions over and over, or checking millions of bags at security checkpoints. In this case, “AI comes for the fun jobs” — the creatively rewarding jobs that people work and study their entire lives to get, Robinson said, and potentially incur a six-figure value of student debt to qualify for them. And they do it before anyone has a chance to notice.

“I see an opportunity to monetize creators, through licensing,” Braga said. But there must be political support. Is there an industry group, association, or group of artists who can create and submit a proposal, as this needs to be addressed, perhaps country by country if necessary. “

McCain said, “There is no doubt that AI will have a huge positive impact in the number of areas influencing our lives, but the more it takes over the jobs we do and finds meaning in them…I think we shouldn’t give up that meaning lightly. We should. There will be some resistance.”

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