AI Art: Its Morality and Its Impacts

Written by Cameron Wisniewski, News Reporter

DAYTON, TN – Through the use of cutting edge technology, artificial intelligence programs have gained the ability to create art. Some of these programs, such as Midjourney and DALL-E, use a text prompt in order to generate appropriate images for a user. Others, such as AICAN, are entirely autonomous, generating pieces that attempt to imitate preexisting works, while also giving its own style.

These artificial intelligences may be able to generate pleasing images, but there is debate over whether these images are actually art. Dr. Todd Giles, an adjunct professor of Communication at Bryan College, believes that the answer is no. “My opinion is that no, that is not art. Art really is about we as human beings interpreting the world around us,” said Giles.

Chandler Hinson, head of Bryan’s Robotics Club, disagrees. “I don’t think there’s truly one definition of art. … But I also believe that the AI that we’re using to create these paintings had to be created by a human, so while art to some people might be a painting or it might be a picture, for whoever made the AI, their art could be their program,” Hinson said.

Photos created by Midjourney

Hinson and Giles have many ideas about the potential uses of these AI. Hinson, for example, spoke about how AI art generators could be used by the general public. For people who lack both artistic talent and time, AI art generators could be used instead to provide art for corporate offices or even home decoration.

While Giles may not see the pieces created by the AI as art, he does believe there are uses, especially in the commercial sector. “Let’s say for the Mandalorian, that they need a background for a grungy cityscape on some planet that we don’t know anything about, and all they would need to do is punch in what is the culture like, what type of buildings do they do, and let the AI build this entire city. …That would probably take a human team a couple weeks to do, and the AI can probably do it in a day,” Giles said.

Giles also addressed some of the legal issues surrounding how AI art programmers use pre-existing work to help teach AI how to structure art. “So, where are those images coming from? Are those images actually signed off that it can be used by the computer or not?…If the creators of the AI are building images off the images they don’t have the rights for, then that is a problem,” said Giles.

AI art generators are a complex issue. For those looking to learn more about art AI generators, some AI developers such as Midjourney’s host Discord servers, which allow users to talk about the consequences and ideas behind art AI, and the uncertain future they bring.

Cameron Wisniewski is a junior communications major at Bryan College. He is from Georgia, and likes to read and play video games in his spare time.