Problems with AI-generated images

Helen Beebe

More photos from Helen Beebe


Helen Beebe

In a style inspired by a political cartoon, an AI program takes art from an artist and uploads it into the database, where it may be used in prompts.

Opening an Artificial Intelligence application, your mind wanders into the depths of creativity and imagination as you type a command into the program. A football field with flowers at night. Cats dancing in the sunlit rain. Monsters in a world of cold fire. A realm of seemingly endless possibility, all in a single program. Notice the word “seemingly,” for AI is but its name—Artificial Intelligence. We hold mental and academic creativity in our minds, while AI is just a computer.

AI is a tool that has been around since 1951. Of course, it didn’t start out like it is today. Evolution and development have been improving and making progress through the ages in technology. The first successful AI program was programmed at the University of Oxford by late director of the Programming Research Group Christopher Strachey. Its only function was to play music, the first song played being the British national anthem “God Save the King.”

Yes, it was simple, but everything has to start somewhere. Without it, we wouldn’t be here with what we have today.

The reason AI is liked so much originates from the very reason of speed and memory. The amount of storage it can hold all at once is beyond almost anything our minds are capable of. AI is able to work much more quickly than we do as humans, its popularity is scraping the skies with its impeccable abilities. But, with scrapes come tears. The wound blisters over, and problems arise. One major issue is how images generated by AI have used many artists’ work without consent. As an artist, I find this extremely problematic.

Art is a beautiful thing, and it’s constantly evolving in many branches. But a person’s art is their own and should not be claimed by someone else. Artists throughout history face the frustrating conflict of our work being copied, stolen, wrongfully claimed and cheated, sometimes after death. One example is Kim Jung Gi’s situation.

Kim Jung Gi was a South Korean illustrator who died on Oct. 3, 2022. The day after his death, his cartoons were put into an AI model without his family’s consent. This is not only extremely disrespectful, but it is also illegal to use an artist’s work without their permission. There have also been times where distorted signatures have been spotted in AI-generated images.
This has already affected many artists because of the popularity of AI. This is not a short trend—based on where AI has been and where it is right now, its prevalence will only grow exponentially. There are concerns about AI running many artists out of business, and while that may be true, I believe that will not be the end.

Art is one of the main forms of human expression. Artists create with emotion, spewing beautiful vehemence onto a canvas. The amount of heart and soul poured into each art piece is something that AI will never be able to obtain, simply because of the fact that AI is a computer.

“One of the big arguments I stand by is that AI learns from existing art, but it does not create original works,” writer David Goei says in a text thread on Facebook. “If AI becomes the future of art, it would mean a lot less original works and just iterations of what has been done before.”

AI will always be evolving—there’s no stopping it. But, we evolve alongside it, our intelligence and creativity growing exponentially. We are still building the future, so let’s make the best of the present.