So I’ve fallen to the dark side and have begun making prompt-generated pieces of AI art. This is a very controversial subject with a lot of undeniably talented artists who I respect being furious about it, and understandably so. If I had to sum up my opinion on the controversy (beyond specific technical issues like how to treat stuff like training images for the sake of copyright and licensing), it’d be condensed to this:
- AI art is here and isn’t going away. It also has undeniable advantages as well as issues. The economic concerns of traditional artists are real.
- Many AI artists have done their medium no favors by just spamming out low-effort prompts and/or deliberately copying obscure internet artist styles, either by model-making or just plain image-to-image.
- The backlash, while understandable, is a Canute-ian endeavor (sorry, had to be a little pretentious). The same thing was said about Photoshop and similar tools. And online self-publishing. And recorded music. And photography. And pipe organs (seriously-the 17th century equivalent of “tech-bros” was applied to the stereotype of organ players back then). Like when free agency became a thing in sports, you have to learn to understand it and see if you can use it to your advantage.
- There’s more to good AI art than just typing in “anime girl trending on artstation”, even if a lot of people only see that (see point 2 above)
But as a hobby, since I can write much better than I can draw, AI prompt tools have let me explore visual media in a delightful way. Yet what struck me when I really started getting into was how natural it seemed to me. And then it occurred to me: I’d done something similar before. Many, many times before. In wargames and simulators like Command, Nuclear War Simulator, Title Bout Boxing, and WMMA, I’d enjoyed simply creating a situation, allowing the RNG to add the needed element of chance to it, and then witnessing the result. And yes, frequently getting inspired by the result.
AI prompt tools allow me to do something similar with art and pictures. Yes, it can be an end. But a casualty list after a wargame scenario or results screen after a sports simulation can also be the beginning of a very human story.
As for AI writing, which is a thing, I’m strangely unfazed by it. I’m an artisanal sculptor, so seeing the metal casting factory rev up means little to my specific work. If that makes sense. Also, I’ve had the warped perspective of reading so many bad and mediocre books that I’m sincerely convinced that a computer can’t really do much worse.