Well, a new strip about the official twilight of the artistic race. Not very funny, but I needed to come back to the point.
AIs are now everywhere, and since the last strip (just a few weeks), some engines have become very impressive. Most of the outputs are still easily spottable, but they are quickly gaining more and more datas to generate valuable pictures; each day, images are getting more and more defined, neat and nearly "perfect". "Imaginary worlds" are often illustrated, using the strangest images from those softwares, exploiting their uncanny looks . And we start to see projects using those "creations" for commercial purposes, as an easy and cheap counterpart to the illustration market. That's a strong blow against the weakest part of the artistic crew. There are many debates about this fast charge, but some points are interesting to examine:
-The "AIs" are opaque black boxes, browsing and mixing millions of images without any authorizations; this point need to be addressed soon one way or an other, and may be with some legal actions. We are today paying here the wonderful internet mirage, where all creative minds were sooo happy to freely share their creations to the world (me included). Fragmentation of artistic world and the original harmless purpose of those tools are not helping to fight back properly.
-Many shout out that AIs are just tools, and that they need artists to be used in artistic ways. We currently see many people posting AI-generated images and presenting themselves as true "creators". It's very painful to witness, as someone who learned (and still learn) art for years. Don't get me wrong, I've seen the rise and fall of some techniques, such as Airbrush or film photography, but all the replacing tools needed work and culture to be mastered. We are here with a technology that reduce the "creation" factor to a minima, being build on predating existing creations (see above). It may give the (false) impression of quick mastering, but it's not the "creator" that get better, it's the database that get bigger. Luckily, I don't depend on illustration to earn my living, but I'm terrified by the potential collateral damages for artists.
-Some says that it will help concept artists, and generate new ideas. I'm not sure of that, concept artists are already working in a hard-to-break reproducing system; just look at the best "concept arts" in specialized sites, you'll see a lot of recurring gimmick, themes and tones. I'm deeply fascinated by the random factors working in the engines (even software creators have trouble understanding the true mechanic in the black boxes), but "creating" an image becomes more a matter of luck than anything else, AIs just reducing the number of possible images in the huge databases by combination.
-Last, but not least, the fact that you need to pay to use the "best" tools is quite ironic: servers and software development have a cost, but as their main fuel are "freely" displayed images, we enter here in a strange dimension straight out our capitalistic worst nightmares.
Debates just start, but it's a race we can't really win, we'll have to jump on the horses. Many aspects of our societies are also threatened by those silent revolutions, with a more important impact than this self-centered one.
Sorry for the long gloomy text (in approximate English). And don't worry, I don't quit yet (but future is full of surprise).