On the spread of AI

On the spread of AI and the protests against it

8 December, 2022

My feed is full of photos processed by Lensa. I see that my friends are not afraid of this technology or, although many do not fully understand it, they are already involved and familiar with it. They don't care about the problem of copyright or disappearing jobs, for example.

But here I am in the facebook community of print-on-demand service (I used it some time ago — they print anything on any thing). Users are somewhat scared: people write that using image generators like Stable Diffusion or Midjourney is immoral, unethical, that AI steals artists' paintings (literally, inserting them piece by piece into the generation) and takes their jobs; that the generators are soulless and you can't call it art. Just like some people on reddit here. None of this is true, of course, and a little googling will convince anyone. Or not?

Now I'm genuinely curious: were there any protests at the time of Photoshop in ’90? (Yes) Or protests against music samplers in ’79? (Sure) Had MP3s and the Internet already killed the music industry? (Yes and…No) Did photographers lose their jobs when DSLRs, photoprinters and iphones were released and became available to anyone? Computers were getting faster and faster — was anyone against it, or had people just adapted? And where are we now?

All the new technology has led to an even greater variety of formats, genres, and styles. I know people to whom electronic music seems soulless, but I also know how to make it sound warm: it won't kill symphony orchestras, which now successfully play music from games and movies to survive. We have vinyl records, CD’s, various digital formats, analog mixers and digital ones — choose anything you want.

Developers, who understand how AI works, are delighted with the technology. Me at least — I’m one of them. I see enthusiasts who use InvokeAI getting excited about the new features: artists, managers, and game developers among them. AI is an amazing toolkit that will simplify and speed up many people's work, create new professions and jobs, new companies, new applications and markets, and advance medicine and health care much further. It's not all that simple, but overall it's a positive thing.

Obviously, further automation is inevitable and some people will lose their jobs. But does anyone want to spend their life doing something that any computer can do faster and cheaper?

Let's imagine: where will AI spread in the next few years?

I use both picture generators and text generators in my work already, right now. But I am a geek, a professional, and I have been working with computers for almost 20 years. It is still difficult for people who are not in our industry to imagine how much more useful AI can be in our lives than the potential harm it can do.


Obviously, development will go in several directions. Advertising agencies, game studios, and movie studios will use generators in their work all the time: it's a great replacement for a lot of references, base for photography, for character design, for video storyboards. As an art director & PM, I'm very happy that it's now possible to describe an idea more fully and accurately to illustrators, photographers, and designers for a technical assignment.


But that's business. What about education? More and more artists and designers will be using software like Midjourney and InvokeAI. It's likely that skills in these soft will become mandatory for many professionals. I'm sure that very soon there will be paid and free courses for those who want to learn it. It would be very cool if schools would also start to at least minimally familiarize students with the principles of neural networks and AI software. It’s free, it’s fun to play with, so why not?


How about healthcare? I'm not talking about complex areas — how about simple art therapy? Treating PTSD and depression, visualizing phobias? A lot of people can't draw (or think they can't), but AI gives everyone the ability to create something in any style. Or recreatin an image from a brain, from our dreams? It's very inspiring.

Moreover, I will be very happy to see adapted interfaces for people with disabilities: the text to image generator with text-to-speech will already allow them not only to be creative and have fun, but also to try working in a new field.

What else should we expect in the near future?

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