Current AI image generators are unethical because they are built on a dataset containing copyrighted and even private medical data without the owner’s consent or compensation. A research organization, LAION, created the dataset, allowing them to gather all this data. Then they released their dataset LAION 5B as an open source. And now, private companies and individuals are taking it and using the data in their commercial products.
I’m sure you can see the problem here.
And by the way, Stability ai (the company that created Stable Diffusion, one of the generators) knows how bad it is because they have also created a music generator that uses only copyright-free and opt-in music! So feel free to look up Dance Diffusion and see it for yourself.
Read the whole article here
And it’s not just Dance Diffusion, but all music AI generators are using copyright-free and licensed music in their training to avoid lawsuits.
Stealing artists identity
Another big problem is that AI image generators can target specific artists. Great artists, many living and working now, are used as prompts. Individuals are creating images that are eerily close to what these artists potentially could create.
Here you can see an example of how somebody created a cover with AI almost copying this artist’s work.
Currently, they are not breaking any laws, which is technically legal… Although, think about it. You created something and worked really hard for many, many years. And now all of your work was taken and fed into the machine. That now spits up millions upon millions of pieces of work very similar to yours. But this is not you who are doing it. It’s somebody else. And you are getting NOTHING in return. They used your work to create their machine, and they are deliberately using YOUR NAME to mimic your work. And all this is happening in insane amounts and speed while you have no control or say in it.
So… if you are pro-AI, I want to ask you. Do you still think it’s ok, fair, and acceptable? Do you believe this is where we, as humanity, should go?
Not against technology
Don’t get me wrong. I’m NOT against AI as a technology. It’s a fascinating potential tool for us.
But! This technology is also can be very very destructive if it used in the wrong way. It’s like a knife. Super helpful thing, but you can kill people with that. Or a car. We wouldn’t be where we are without cars. But if you drive without rules, you kill people. AI without regulations or rules in the hands of many ill-meaning or stupid individuals has a potential of an atomic bomb in the hands of a monkey. Right now you can use AI generators to create child porn, non-consensual porn, blackmail, deep fakes, and propaganda, and destroy people’s lives and careers. It’s not just fun and games. It’s not just pretty pictures. And we should be aware of this.
What can we do about this?
First, you can talk to people around you and educate them on how current AI models are unethical and why they shouldn’t be used.
Please don’t use these image generators yourself because you are aiding in further training and development when you use them.
Don’t be aggressive towards people who are generating images with AI. Many of them are not aware of the problem. And if you see a person that is fully aware but still using it and even mocking artists (sadly, I have seen many of those), try to stay calm when expressing your position, and do not lower yourself to their level. These people are deeply insecure or unhappy, and they use any opportunity to mock and hate other people.
Consider donating to these GoFundMe fundraisers by Concept Art Association and MeFu.
Concept Art Association is a non-profit organization working in the US and has been helping artists in the industry for many years. They will take the issue to the US government and, hopefully, succeed with their mission. You can read about details on the fundraiser page.
MeFu is a non-profit organisation operting in Italy and protecting artists rights in the comic industry. They are aiming to protect artists against AI scraping in the EU. Read more on their page.
Even 2-5 dollars will help. And please spread the word about this.
Why should you care?
This is not just about exploiting artists; it is about private companies and individuals taking YOUR data and using it however they want without legal consequences. So, for example, anyone can take your photos, train an AI model and generate whatever they want with your face. Do you feel comfortable with it?
As people, not just artists, we should stand against this uncontrolled and unethical data scraping. AI should be trained only on open-source and licensed data. Every time AI is used, it should be stated as such.
Then and only then AI image generators can be acceptable to use.
If you want to know more about the issue, consider watching these videos from Steven Zapata and Proko.
Spread awareness, stay calm and keep fighting!