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Will AI Redefine the Role of Artists?

Last month, during our monthly meetup at the Future Art Movement, we delved into the fascinating realm of generative AI art. The discussions that unfolded were nothing short of passionate, sparking intense debates among fellow creators and artists. We found ourselves grappling with profound questions: Is generative AI art? Are artists still as crucial to society's creative landscape as they once were? And what exactly constitutes an artist in this digital age?


Copyright and Creative Control in AI-Generated Art


For me, it's not hard to fathom why some traditional artists hold strong reservations about generative art. One of the major bones of contention revolves around the issue of copyright. In the United States, the Copyright Office has taken a clear stance, stating that "copyright protection is not available for the work of a machine or a process operated without any creative input or intervention from a human." This means that AI-generated works don't receive automatic copyright protection.

But here's where things get intriguing. There are instances where AI-generated art can indeed be eligible for copyright protection. If a human artist wields AI tools to craft a piece of art and injects sufficient creative control, they can secure copyright for their creation. The pivotal question then becomes, how much human influence is necessary in the creative process?

For example, if an artist uses AI with a prompt like "create art in the style of Picasso," the resulting work may seem like a mere copy of Picasso's creations, far from being truly original. Yet, what if that artist goes the extra mile, infusing their unique style and creative input into the mix? This deliberate infusion of personal creativity gives birth to something genuinely novel.

Moreover, if AI-generated art draws from copyrighted works as its foundation, it might be deemed a derivative work and consequently be eligible for copyright protection. However, the new work must stand out as significantly different from the original source.

An artist’s illustration of artificial intelligence (AI), depicted text-to-image models used by generative image AI.

Credit to Google DeepMind


But what, you might wonder, truly defines art? According to the dictionary, it's "the quality, production, expression, or realm of things beautiful, imaginative, or skillful that express important ideas or feelings." For me, art is that profound form of human expression that has the power to evoke emotions and feelings. Essentially, anything can be art, provided it stirs something within us. I'm not quick to label a haphazard painting as art; it's simply a painting.


What Technically is “Art?”


The term "art" finds its roots in the Latin word "ars," which translates to "skill" or "craft." Artists—be they traditional or AI-empowered—employ their skills to create art. Many of them, whom I have observed, have honed their craft over years, long before ChatGPT captured everyone’s attention. They’ve developed a mastery of unique skills—their secret ingredients that make their art distinct from the rest. That's what defines an artist.

Take, for example, the incredible work of AI artist Pindar Van Arman. He went a step beyond by training his own model based on his artistic style. He even went so far as to construct his robotic arms to perfect the physical act of painting. The art world has been nothing less than astounded by his creations, and no one has ever questioned the authenticity of his artistry.

As I reflect on the ongoing shifts in the art industry, I'm convinced that things won't be the same as before. New tools bring new creative possibilities. The world is curious, and so are we, the creators. We're eager to explore these new tools and see how they can enrich our artistic endeavors.


Redefining Art and the Future of Creativity


In my view, the crux of the matter isn't whether AI will challenge artists, but rather how the evolving landscape of art creation is reshaping our understanding of artistry. AI is advancing, and the art world is in a state of transformation. Artists, whether they wield traditional brushes or AI algorithms, bring their unique skills and creative essence to the table. As AI continues to integrate into the artistic process, we're in for a broader spectrum of creative expressions, pushing the boundaries of what we consider art. This evolving landscape opens doors for artists to embrace new tools and redefine the art industry as we know it. It's a thrilling journey of exploration, and I, like many creators, am excited to see where it leads.