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Can a synthetic intelligence be thought-about an artist?

In the majority of fiction that concerns artificial intelligence (AI), the latter replaces us in almost all areas of activity. Often only the artistic areas are spared. In general, a robot or AI showing skills to create a work is seen as accomplishment, at the peak of intelligence, which is seen as almost human. However, AI and art are already flirting in reality, be it in musical creation or in the visual arts, it is becoming more and more present.

But on August 26, 2022, the shock was brutal when, during a fine arts competition in Colorado, the winning image was designed entirely by an AI. To get to his Space Opera Theater, Jason Allen only had to type a few words into a generator called Midjourney.

Write to create an image

The American entrepreneur wanted to take part in this competition and must have managed to preserve this image with certain baroque codes. This result caused controversy both among the artists participating in this competition and among art critics. Suddenly, Jason Allen opened Pandora’s box by showing that artificial intelligences are now able to create unique illustrations in a matter of seconds that could well appear in exhibitions.

For visual artists, this reality may have sounded the death knell of their careers. How do you combat this “prompt art”? In fact, there is now various software on the Internet such as Midjourney, but also Dall-E or that creates images in seconds simply by typing words.

This can be done by specifying a painting genre or even an artist. Intelligence works with an artistic algorithm. He will search his “memory” for representations of objects, animals, people, styles, etc. He then designs an illustration from what he has unearthed and according to an approach determined by the user or their “creativity”. This netizen, designer in his spare time, shows how intelligence manages to come up with several proposals in a few seconds, and some turn out to be better than his sketches.

So it is quite possible to achieve convincing and amazing results with just a few words. For example, if the request is firmly rooted in popular culture, there are even more possibilities. Here’s one of the creations I made by typing “gandalf monet” on

One could almost think that the French painter painted the portrait of the famous wizard from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings between two canvases. But no, this achievement was one of the most successful that the AI ​​has offered me. Because yes, I needed several suggestions before I got a satisfactory result. Some of the creations did not live up to expectations. However, unlike a human who would have to start from scratch and complete it in hours or days, it only takes the algorithm a few seconds to create something else.

legitimate debates

This new approach raises many questions. Already at the level of authorship of the work: is it the AI ​​or the one who wrote the command to create the image? The legislation is very clear on this. From the moment a human being is responsible for creation, he is the owner of the rights. The US Copyright Office settled the matter in early 2022 when an AI creator attempted to copyright the design created only by its artificial intelligence. Thus, an interface or an algorithm cannot have a property.

Speaking of rights: “Prompt Art” raises questions, since artificial intelligence draws on the styles and works of other artists without asking their opinion. Furthermore, the Quebec artists were very surprised to see that AIs were already embracing their way of painting. In addition, painters and sculptors are now checking on site whether algorithms have not trained with their artistic approach. Many of them resent these involuntary “loans” whose legal recourse is almost nil. Case law shows that inspirations cannot be regarded as plagiarism. This videographer explains it very well.

In addition, after the AI ​​affair that won a competition, fine art websites and image databases reject works authored by AIs. A Slightly Harsh Judgment: Aren’t Artists Really Using AI? Because by engaging with the unique subject of Prompt Art, having the illustration you want is a lot harder than one might think.

The whole question of what is written, the order in which it is done, the precision of the command and the deep learning of the artificial intelligence will lead to more or less successful performances. So the trick is to find THE right combination. Also, Jason Allen has always refused to say what he wrote in midjourney to get his award-winning image.

Especially since some artists use the algorithmic tool in their work mechanically or simply by quickly arranging photos into another. Does this mean they are less artists when using the latest technology? It often seems that people see the intention as artistic. The sensitivity of the person holding the pen, brush or quill remains at the heart of all creation. Are we less sensitive when typing on a keyboard to be creative? The question deserves further investigation.

Let’s not forget that the art world has always been conservative and looked down on new approaches. The piano was viewed with contempt at a time when everyone believed the harpsichord to be the pinnacle of music. Many centuries later, musicians feared that synthesizers would take away their jobs because they could reproduce the sound of instruments. But that loss of music jobs didn’t materialize.

Certainly the question of “prompt art” raises many questions. Some believe this would make art classes obsolete. However, we could counter that it is just a new method that deserves to be studied in an artistic class. The tool comes with its moments of grace and its flaws like any other.

Dealing with the problem with the students will allow further analysis of the possibilities, risks and limitations of this technology, which will be used in both good and bad ways. Each tool is neutral; It’s the uses that give it meaning.

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