AI Art and the Continued Disrespect Toward Creatives

So. This whole artificial intelligence thing has made its way to art.

The eventual migration of technology to the creative realm is predictable–as is the ease with which a lot of people have flocked to it. Also not surprising? The fact that AI art exploits artists, already struggling in a myriad of ways, and the fact that people don’t seem all that bothered about it.

Artist: Kendall Goode (@kendallgoode on Twitter)

I’ve written before about how creatives face disrespect no other discipline faces. How artists and writers both face people who want access to their products and services without paying what those products and services, and the work and effort that goes into them, are worth. Artists and writers are supposed to grin and accept being noticed, as if exposure pays rent or foots the grocery bill.

And if a creative type mentions this? They’re often told to “get a real job.”

AI art brings convenience and ease of access to consumers, without bringing anything of value or respect to artists. Once again, creatives are the butt of a societal disrespect: a demand for access to their wares, with no thought or consideration into the time, effort, and resources used in creating. I briefly studied art in college; I understand better than most how expensive art supplies can be. To say nothing of the hours spent planning and executing a piece.

To shift to writing–because make no mistake, that’s where this AI craze is going next (and in certain circles, it’s already rearing its ugly head)–plugging a series of key words into a machine and getting back a story is a mockery of the entire writing process, and while I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point where AI-generated work renders the likes of Stephen King and Catherine Coulter obsolete, it’s still a troubling trend.

The rise in AI-generated art reinforces the notion that people, writ large, do not respect creatives. For all the creative content we consume throughout our day–the TV shows and movies we stream, the music we listen to, the graphics we see on ads and social media, the books we read–we treat the content with far more reverence than we do those who create said content. There’s no consideration for the time and the effort and the resources. There’s the desire to “pay” with exposure, to treat the artist as greedy for daring to ask for payment for their services.

Gods forbid I ask for $2.99 if anyone wants to read Notna.

No other discipline faces this. We don’t short those who build our bridges or pave our roads or formulate our life-saving medications. Yet our authors and painters and sculptors and illustrators and editors constantly face demands to give away their work, or at least offer a discount for reasons…people respect our products, but they don’t respect the people who create them.

And because of this, they try to shortcut their way to things. Which is where AI art comes in.

But here’s the rub: there is no shortcut to art. Not the genuine product. True, authentic creativity cannot be faked. It cannot be generated through a computer program or an algorithm. True art requires things a machine cannot replicate: desire, an existential need to create…the anxiety, the late nights, the thousands of failed attempts before striking proverbial gold. AI cannot give us those things. AI cannot give us the soul and the drive that feeds our creativity.

There is no shortcut to that. And art that is not genuine, art that is not authentic–we can spot it from a mile away. True creativity requires effort. Emotion. Investment. Personal sacrifice.

SkyNet cannot replicate that. AI is not the answer. AI is an imposter.

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

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