Video: Thought Slime on “AI Art”

This whole “AI” art fad has always felt reminiscent of the crypto/NFT stuff, possibly because it seems to be pushed by the same or similar people. It’s a thing that could, in theory, be interesting and beneficial, but within our current system, all it ends up being vapid and harmful. It’s like automation – it’s framed as taking jobs away from people, but that’s only a problem because jobs are how people earn the right to exist, and the folks in charge are constantly trying to find new ways to not pay people.

What bothers me most, at this moment, is how these programs are allowing rich assholes to profit off of artistic work that I guarantee would be deemed worthless within our society. “You don’t deserve a living wage for doing that work because nobody wants to pay for it, now excuse me while I take it and use it to make money”. The problem isn’t the new thing that’s “taking jobs”, it’s the rules built around that new thing that ensures only a few people get the benefit.



  1. says

    Not watchin the video, as usual.

    A lot of long term art professionals actually like AI art tools, the opposition mostly comes from art hobos (valid) feeling threatened by something they don’t understand (not valid), and the thousands of complete know-nothings they’ve whipped into a frenzy on social media. In terms of the threat to artistic jobs, this is quite comparable to the existence of stock art, which has been around for decades. Anybody who wants something original / specific and actually willing to pay for it would *still* pay somebody, and the only clients you’re missing out on are “client from hell” types that sometimes stiff you anyway.

    The fact is that illustration as a job already just doesn’t exist. It’s a side hustle at best. Art skill has been devalued into the sewer for at least as long as I had been dipshit enough to be chasing that career. The big names of illustration from the 70s through 90s are only able to work as artists anymore by dint of their names. There are people with ten times the skill willing to work for a fifth the price in Russia and Korea. You can connect with them via sites like ArtStation and pay them via paypal. Why pay out the ass to deal with a fussy american? And art as a dayjob is either gated around nepotism babies or are underpaid overworked bloody meat-grinders that turn baby artists into ruined chunks.

    The hilarious thing for commission chasers feeling threatened by this is that the status quo has been absolutely rampant art theft that no poor artist can do anything at all about – and if those thieves start using AI instead? This will actually reduce art theft. Possibly a lot, possibly all of it.

    The only legit complaint against it is that like HeLa cells, the original source was questionable. But that source could be scrapped wholesale and the project rebuilt ethically within a few years tops.

    My real beef is that I’ve personally watched people’s lives greatly enriched by use of AI art, as an accessibility tool, as a source of inspiration. And I’ve watched those people feeling personally insulted by hordes of luddites, nominally on the same side of the political divide. (tho note: a lot of anti-AI art arguments revolve around capitalist ends, or full-on ableism and gatekeeping of who gets to be an artist.) The fact that the prevailing opinion on the internet is against it, that’s become very offensive to me.

  2. says

    It’s not just commission-chasers, though – it’s theft and use of everyone’s art. The people behind the AI art “movement” that I’ve heard talking about it are pretty open about their goal of replacing human workers.

    Still, as with the luddites you mentioned, the opposition isn’t to the machinery, so much as the system that uses that machinery to benefit the few to the detriment of the many. I thought I had covered that in my post, but maybe I wasn’t clear. And no, I don’t think “commission chasers” are unaware of the existing problem of art theft. I hear them talk about it fairly often, and from what I can tell this feels like an escalation of that. It’s another straw on the proverbial camel’s back, not a catastrophe all by itself.

    I dunno, I guess if I have to I can explicitly spell out “and this is why capitalism needs to be replaced with something better”, but it feels pretty repetitive already.

  3. says

    Everyone I’ve seen leading the “discussion” has had a shingle out with prices on it. And I’ve been there, chasing commission, which is all the more reason why I say There is **no fucking work** to be replaced and there hasn’t been. Have you noticed how book covers for the last two and half decades haven’t had cover art? Just stock photography/art or a texture swatch with fancy text basically? The art jobs have *been* gone, and the sooner anyone who thought they could do that shit for a living wises up, the less they’ll suffer for it.

    And yeah, some people still connect a few dots on commissions, but they do this in the same way as musicians. It isn’t art they’re selling but performance of a feat of skill. And that market is still there, and still will be! And still as underpaid and exploitative and retrograde as anything in the entertainment industry. The average length of a career in video games, last I looked, was two years – because people wise up and go into non-entertainment jobs after a short period of that abuse. Or just die from the abuse, like the lady who killed herself from harassment at activision-blizzard, or the ”stress casualties” from crunch periods.

    The “art theft” I already addressed, if you read that. When the core of these things was built, they used images scanned indiscriminately from the internet – most of it from stock websites, which is why vague phantoms of shutterstock’s watermark show up in some of the worse AI results. That was unethical, arguably theft, but if people wanted to address that, they can. Legislate that they can’t use that source anymore, and they can use the same tech to rebuild the AI from ethically sourced art within a few years. You don’t need to overthrow capitalism to get that legislation. The prevailing sentiment now is against AI art, so it should be supremely easy to get asshole legislators to join the cause for an easy win to brag about. And then where’s the fucking theft argument? Doesn’t exist.

    And it they don’t even directly use that art it trained the AI with! It is physically impossible for that to be the case because in order to do that the AIs would need databases orders of magnitude larger than they actually have. This isn’t like jpeg compression where they were able to make an image smaller by taking out information and re-building it with math – the data set they have would still be wholly inadequate to the rebuilding.

    I challenge any AI detractor to actually use one of these engines to re-create their art. You can do it for endlessly recopied images like the mona lisa, but for Jimmy Anime 01 on twitter? It’s fucking impossible. If you get something similar, there’s much more than the legally required threshold of difference for it to not be considered theft. What the AI is doing is much more comparable to the art of collage (still not theft) or the act of using somebody else’s art as a reference (which Jimmy Anime 01 has been doing his whole life).

    We can stow the “capitalism must be ended” argument for later because we are in full agreement on it, and AI art can end art theft **now** – no end of capitalism needed – for the reason I already explained, if you read that. When all the cheap fucks that weren’t going to pay an artist anyway are using AI (which yes, used their art as a basis, but is not stealing it for the reasons I’ve now stated), then they will not be painting out watermarks and printing people’s independent art on bullshit from beijing.

    Engage what I said, or I guess I’m done.

  4. says

    Hell let’s get scifi and say AI art replaces ALL art jobs, from musicians to acting to filmmaking. Good! Then anybody still doing making art will be doing so without commercial incentive, for the art’s own sake, in whatever time a less exploitative future allows them.

  5. says

    The concern isn’t people’s art being perfectly remade, though Thought Slime does bring that up a little, so much as corporations that DO hire artists currently using this to try to get around that. It’s also part of the general narrative that workers are unnecessary and should have no power or consideration.

    I dunno, it kinda feels like your point boils down to “shit’s already fucked, so why care?”

  6. says

    So to the point is not art theft then? Only automation taking jobs? Then how is the conversation any different from other laborers having to change their line of work when technology makes that particular travail unnecessary? The “shit’s already fucked” shows that the jobs that are being taken are not worth preserving.

  7. says

    ehhh, y’know what? respond if you want, it’s your space, but feel free to not respond. i can tell we’re talking past each other. i’ll just stop coming around yer blog til i’m less steamed. later, comrade.

  8. says

    I guess I should have said that’s not the ONLY concern. It’s a bit of all of the above.

    If a worker gets replaced by a machine, and they go work for a different company, the original company isn’t still benefitting from their labor. Maybe it’s closer to the people who try to sell original products on Amazon, only to have the team at Amazon Basics copy their design, undercut their prices, put their version higher on the page. They can go try to make another product, but that one will probably get stolen, too. They can try to do business without Amazon, but there’s still no guarantee that Amazon won’t steal their work.

    That was already a problem, but if there was an algorithm designed to automate that process, that would be a new dimension to the problem, would it not? And worth talking about?

  9. says

    @John – that seems like an unambiguously good thing, but I don’t think it’s really tied to this particular phenomenon, beyond maybe some of the base-level technology.

    Things like accessibility are where I’m 100% in support of so-called “AI”

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