AI Art is an Ethical Nightmare


Julissa Flores

A Pig made using Midjourney.

Rebecca Wilson, Copy Editor

AI (artificial intelligence) generated art and the discourse surrounding it has taken over social media in recent months, and rightfully so. It has the potential to revolutionize the art industry and how entertainment media is produced.

AI algorithms work by having users enter ‘keywords’ into the program. The algorithm then looks at images associated with those keywords. This process is referred to by developers as “training”. It generates a picture based on creating a collage of those images.

The problem? Most algorithms don’t use free-use stock images as references; rather, they’re trained using human-made art without the artists’ knowledge.

“It’s stealing,” said MBA senior Xanna Palafox, an AP Studio Art student. “Small independent creators are getting their art stolen and are being ripped off.”

AI algorithms, as they are programmed, now are exploitative. It’s irresponsible for companies to be pushing to normalize them. 

Most algorithms are trained using art hosting sites such as DeviantArt and Art Station. These sites are popular amongst independent artists who rely on selling art prints and doing freelance work to financially support themselves. They are not compensated by the companies behind the algorithms. In most cases, artists weren’t even asked to give consent on their pieces being used. 

PHOTO BY Julissa Flores. A Pig made using Midjourney.

Artists have already begun speaking out in the issue.

“A bastion of hireable, skilled, industry talent can’t coexist with a tide of infinite theft,” tweeted digital artist and character designer Nicholas Kole via his Twitter account. 

On Dec. 13, Kole created a graphic that he posted on Art Station in protest of the website’s statement on allowing AI Art. As of Dec. 14, his original post has garnered over 26 thousands views and 2.5 thousand likes and inspired others to create their own variations and post them.

Supporters of AI art claim that these generators make art more accessible. However, good intentions don’t justify harmful actions. 

Art has never been more accessible than it is now in its current state. There are thousands of tutorials and references available online with a simple Google Search that don’t involve art theft. Making good art requires hard work and trial and error. Drawing is a skill, not a talent! Most of all, creating art requires genuine emotion and human expression, something that AI can never imitate.

“There’s no heart whatsoever in AI,” said Palafox. “It’s fun to mess with, it looks pretty, but that’s it. It shouldn’t be legitimized, especially when it steals from actual artists.”

Whether or not AI Art is something that’s here to stay or simply a fading trend remains to be seen, but I will be hoping for the latter.