Is Artificial Intelligence an Artist?

The definition of art and artist can be somewhat subjective, and as new technologies rise, the line between what is considered art and what is not is becoming increasingly blurred. Although art generated by artificial intelligence has been around for a bit, it has recently become prolific, and easily accessible to society at large. There are now numerous websites and applications that use AI to produce art for little to no charge, but this raises questions about the nature or art as well as the ethics of it being computer generated. Should a person who types in a few words that an AI then uses to generate a picture be considered an artist? Some people think so, after all one person, a man named Jason Allen, won the Colorado State Fair’s annual art contest with an AI generated piece in 2022.

This, however, brings up some ethical, and legal, issues. AI art generators use art posted on the internet in order to determine their algorithm, without the artists’ permission. Thus, much of computer generated art is a Frankenstein piece made by stitching together the art of multiple artists without their consent or knowledge. If AI art is generated using copyrighted art pieces, the legality of claiming that art as one’s own is questionable. Additionally, moving on to one of the ethical issues surrounding AI art, companies that don’t want to pay for human artists can now resort to artificial intelligence, meaning many artists could be out of a job.

Beyond ethics and legality, there is also the debate whether AI art can truly be considered art. The first definition of art in the dictionary is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” Human creation and expression seems to be integral to the idea of art, however AI art is rather lacking in that area. While some argue that human creativity is needed to prompt the AI generators to make pieces, that seems to be a bit of a stretch. However, art is also about the viewer’s experience of the piece, and AI art, since it is based in human art, can often be difficult to distinguish from an original piece, so it could be a difficult thing to regulate. It is unlikely that technology will stop developing any time soon, and AI generators will only improve with time, so the dilemma remains: should it be considered art?

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Sarah Vest

One thought on “Is Artificial Intelligence an Artist?

  1. AI is absolutely not an artist. Most AI models commonly used learn from art that already exists, art made by humans. If that AI model is then used to create a new artwork, the AI should not be credited it should be the humans it learned from. This, however gets into much more trouble because most of the people whose works have contributed to such models never even consented to their involvement, thus I believe making the monetary usage of said AI generated art pieces to be crime in one of its most simple forms, theft. There are people running around using AI art to do commissions on websites and taking jobs away without even attempting to hide their blatant piracy. I am grateful new legislation is on its way because this is incredibly damaging to artists in a way that undermines all their hard work and skill.

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