Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Troubling Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and How It Impacts Children's Book Creators (part 1: Illustrators)

The theoretical issue of Artificial Intelligence (AI) illustrations and text has been more and more in the news lately, and this recent article in TIME made it concrete for illustrators: He Used AI to Publish a Children’s Book in a Weekend. Artists Are Not Happy About It.

screen shot of TIME magazine article, He Used AI to Publish a Children’s Book in a Weekend. Artists Are Not Happy About It, including 3 AI illustrations from the picture book

Basically, the way AI systems learn how to do the things they do is from studying the work of humans before it. As the TIME article explains, 

“Artificial intelligence systems like Midjourney are trained using datasets of millions of images that exist across the Internet, then teaching algorithms to recognize patterns in those images and generate new ones. That means any artist who uploads their work online could be feeding the algorithm without their consent.”

Picture book illustrator Adriane Tsai, who is interviewed in the article, put it this way in a post on social media that TIME screen-captured:

“I had to say this one too many times: Art created from stolen art, even if it looks “new” now, was still created from *gasp* stolen art! if AI was never trained on stolen work, you would not be able to make your “new” art. That’s the end of the story.”

So how do the original artists get compensated/credited when their work is used to "train" AI systems? Especially when AI systems are ingesting millions of examples?

More questions than answers right now, but it's good to know what's happening.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

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