AI generators won’t replace artists


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The concept of art is always evolving but artists shouldn’t worry about AI generators taking away their job.

By Max Honermeier, Opinion Columnist

“Was this drawn by a human?”

That’s a question we need to start asking ourselves when looking at pictures. The ability of artificial intelligence to generate images has exploded in the last year, and it’s becoming difficult to differentiate the work of man from machine.

Using an AI image generator like Craiyon is incredibly simple. Input some text and the algorithm spits out a series of pictures. While most of the results are Unrecognizable from the text prompt, a few could pass for real photos. With enough polishing of the text prompt and algorithm, an AI program can even create a masterpiece.

The 2022 Colorado State Fair’s annual art competition made waves after awarding first prize to a piece not drawn by human hands. 

“Mr. (Jason) Allen’s work, ‘Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,’ took home the blue ribbon in the fair’s contest for emerging digital artists – making it one of the first AI generated pieces to win such a prize,” according to The New York Times.

Artists are understandably worried about what this means for the future of art. What’s the point of pouring your heart into a painting when a soulless machine can produce something just as good?

Joe Insley, a research associate professor at NIU and the Argonne National Laboratory, thinks that AI isn’t going to replace artists. 

“I think this (AI) is sort of the next evolution,” Insley said. “I think there’s been plenty of examples of other things – photography, video, computer generated images – that have sort of been game changers or so to speak.” 

This isn’t the first time the art world has been shaken by new technology. The inventions of the camera and computer forever changed how we create images, but the artist is still at the core of the process.

AI is no different. As Insley said, “To some extent there needs to be somebody telling the algorithm what they want.” The skillset of artists is constantly changing, but machines will never be a substitute for the human touch.