Will AI artwork replace human artists? (Part 1)

Dio Hulks out!

One of several AI-generated images of Ronnie James Dio as the Hulk (more below)

Will artificial intelligence replace the human artist? Will computers put artists out of work in the near future? Have they already? Should those who make a living in the visual arts—or those who aspire to do so—be concerned about their future?

Once upon a time, artists had to create their art by hand, using manual tools. Then, in the late 20th century, computers came along and became a new tool with which the artist could create. However, computers could not create artwork on their own. While they opened up new possibilities for the artist, offered new and improved workflows, and could speed up the time it took to create works of art, one still needed to have certain skills and an artistic eye to use them properly and create with them. Someone who lacked the necessary skills and the artistic eye still needed to hire an artist if one wanted artwork for a given project.

Don't make Dio angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
He'll go all Holy Diver on your ass.

However, as the 21st century progresses, a new wrinkle has entered the world of computers: artificial intelligence aka AI. Now, anybody can create artwork without the need for a skilled professional artist. AI applications now exist with which anyone can enter a phrase, a set of keywords, or worded description, and perhaps a set of parameters as well, and the application will create the artwork on its own. No artistic skill is needed. While many of these apps require a small fee to use—some are absolutely free, however—they are usually still cheaper to use than hiring a professional artist in most cases.

For example, let’s say one types into one of these AI applications the words, “Ronnie James Dio belted by gamma rays turns into the Hulk.” The application will then spit out an image or series of images based on the phrase entered. If one is not satisfied with the images generated, one can try again, or create variations on one or more of the originally generated images. As one of these applications boasts, “The possibilities are endless.” Below are a number of images that were generated by entering the preceding phrase.

As you can see, a whole slew of images can be generated from just one phrase. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Conceivably, an infinite number of images could have been generated. Yes, the possibilities are endless.

However, are these images viable for commercial use, or are they just a fun and interesting novelty? Is there still a need for professional artists, or should artists start looking for a different line of work in order to make a living and survive? Is this the end, or just the beginning?

What do you think? Put your two cents in the comments section below.

(Shout-out to Myk Robinson for hipping me to the Midjourney AI bot used to make these images, and for getting me totally obsessed with it.)

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