How Today’s AI Art Debate Will Shape the Creative Landscape of the 21st Century
How the singular features and the lack of regulation of AI systems make this situation uniquely challenging.
AI art systems are in vogue. Although they’ve existed for a few years now, 2022 will be remembered as the year the AI art revolution began. AI tech companies — big and small, for-profit and non-profit — have been developing text-to-image generative models that are sending shockwaves across the creative world — that not long ago was safe from AI.
DALL·E 2 (OpenAI) is arguably the model that sparked this transformative trend, but there are many more. Some are private models that companies have announced but never released, like Imagen and Parti (Google Brain) or Make-A-Scene (Meta AI). Other models are in the stage of open beta (anyone can access them through a form or waitlist), like the aforementioned DALL·E 2 or Midjourney. And the vast majority fall into the last category: Open-source models. Here we find the popular DALL·E mini (now renamed Craiyon), the Colab notebooks that started everything like The Big Sleep, VQGAN-Clip, or Disco Diffusion, and soon-to-be-released models like Stable Diffusion (Stability.ai).
With such a broad array of options, anyone has the chance to experience firsthand the emergent AI art scene. Most people will use these models recreationally to see what the fuzz is about. But others plan to take advantage professionally and/or for commercial purposes (full disclosure: I’m in this group). It’s here where this story starts and why it’s paramount that we talk about it. Let’s contextualize with some recent events.
OpenAI announced on July 20th that they’ll be releasing their flagship model DALL·E 2 as an open beta. This means anyone on the waitlist (1M+ people and counting) will soon have access. More importantly, they’ll allow using the generated images commercially. Midjourney and Stable Diffusion — the other two comparable (and even better) models quality-wise will allow it, too. Midjourney paid members can sell their generations and Stable Diffusion is open source — which means that very soon, developers will have the tools to build paid apps on top of it.