Artificial intelligence is shocking artists (and why AI “Art” isn’t Ethical)

Shiba Towne

   Artists are protesting against artificial intelligence, or AI, due to a new technology that has been trending on social media. Artificial intelligence has developed a long way since it was first created as a concept, ranging from writing essays to generating images. As of writing this article, artificial intelligence has the ability to generate images replicating styles of art, from watercolor to digital art mediums, even becoming a trending filter on the social media platform Tik Tok.    However, these AI generators need media and content to consume in order to “learn” how to make “art”. But where do these images come from? The angry artists from around the globe whose work was used without permission to advance these machines.    Recently, a huge outbursts of social media posts display the popular “No AI” symbol, causing a massive protest against generators like “DALL-E-2” and ”STABLE.”   In my opinion, AI generators should not be using artist’s work without their permission to do so.    According to, an artist has a copyright to their artwork as soon as it has been created. It lasts for the entirety of the artist’s life, and an additional 70 years after their death. Copyright law protects ownership, use, and distribution of creative work, making AI art generators violate copyright law.    According to a poll I hosted with a total of 24 anonymous poll takers from Delta High School and social media, 91.7% are aware that these generators use artwork without permission. However, 70.8% believe that taking these artworks does not violate copyright.   Recently, a Colorado man won an art competition using one of these generators, claiming that these generators are going to replace artists.    “Photobashing has been a tool forever. If an artist feeds the AI only their own content and then edits it, I count it as the artist using another advanced tool. Using other people’s work or generating images from photographs that are stripped from image searches is as unethical as copying/stealing/tracing peoples work and should not be claimed as anything more than AI generated images, I wouldn’t want traced nor AI generated ‘art’ into competitions etc. In general I think AI tools are fun and could add a good layer to an artist’s art, but with what it has already become, it’s pretty clear people only want an easy profit without thinking about others,”said one poll taker.   In my personal opinion, I think these AI art generators should just be another tool for artists. Instead of having these generators “Frankenstein” a ton of artwork together to create something completely ‘new’, I think it would be better if an artist is able to feed a generator their own artwork to create an entirely new concept. Despite AI generated images looking a little funky, they still create a neat concept that an artist is able to use and create something better than the image. AI art generators can be abused, allowing users to claim that the image the AI has generated is their own.   AI generators would have been a better idea if programmers and artists actually collaborated and developed an ethical generator. The action of taking an artist’s work, especially when they did not give permission for its use, and mashing it together with other images isn’t creating art, but rather cutting and pasting.    “But in respect to prompted AI image generators I think the art they make is bad (at least nowadays). But my main issue with AI art is it is always based on previously made art meaning it can only be derivative. Actually, thinking about this more, I’m sure there’s a case to be made that humans can also only make art using ideas, thoughts, images they saw before,” said another poll taker.

   With the background knowledge to make an educated decision, it is better not to support these generators but rather support a human artist. A machine cannot replicate what a human has worked so hard to develop. Human artists will always succeed when it comes to creating art.