Artists and designers protest against AI-generated graphics

Artists and designers protest against AI-generated graphics

Image: half trip suggested by MIXED

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AI graphics are coming to everyday life. An ongoing debate shows that there is still a lot of need for clarification – from a legal, ethical and emotional point of view.

AI graphics tools such as Midjourney and DALL-E 2 are available to more and more people. They can and are also used commercially.

In this case, the tool is potentially (partially) replacing human work: for example, Cosmopolitan magazine created a cover using artificial intelligence, and recently a writer from The Atlantic used a Midjourney-generated image in an article. This sparked protests on Twitter.

The AI ​​illustration replaces the archival photo, and the artists are shocked

Author Charlie Warzel used an illustrated image from Midjourney depicting US radio host Alex Jones in his newsletter for well-known US national media brand The Atlantic.

Since many media outlets covered Jones using a selection of a few archival photos that Warzel was also supposed to choose from, the author wanted to visually differentiate himself in his newsletter. AI-generated graphics, therefore, seemed to him a suitable alternative.

This in turn angered artists and designers who noticed AI graphics and protested on Twitter: if a well-known magazine like The Atlantic pays a computer instead of an artist for illustrations, this could serve as a model for other publications to save. on budget design.

Warzel made it clear that the AI ​​illustration was her own decision and that the alternative would simply be widely available stock photos. However, Warzel hasn’t been able to stop Twitter’s momentum – protests against his AI image have received hundreds of retweets and tens of thousands of likes.


“My open DMs were well stocked with people alternately calling me a piece of shit or asking why everyone on Twitter called me a piece of shit,” Warzel writes.

Not all AI illustrations replace human ones

Behind the protests of the graphics community there is, on the one hand, the fear of being replaced. OpenAI founder Sam Altman, one of the brains behind DALL-E 2, said at the launch of the image engine beta that it would likely take over human creative jobs and change the job market.

There is further anger in the protests because systems like DALL-E 2 or Midjourney are trained with images from the Internet. These images, in turn, were largely created by human artists.

One thesis is that artists have a fundamental license claim against AI-generated images because their art could be proportionally included in any AI image. A similar debate is ongoing among programmers in the context of AI code generators. So far there is no consensus.

In any case, Warzel apologizes to the design community and claims that he did not consider the “complicated ethical issues” before deciding on the AI ​​illustration, but was simply following a selfish desire to visually distinguish his newsletter from the rest of the world. cover by Jones.

Since, among other things, he would rather not help guide developments in one direction, he would largely do without AI graphics in the future, even if a human were not automatically in charge of AI.

“Like others, I also have questions about the corpus used to train these artistic tools and the possibility that they are using a large amount of works of art by both famous and lesser known artists without any compensation or disclosure to those artists,” Warzel writes.

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