AI is more – and less – scary than you think

AI is more – and less – scary than you think

In this issue, every piece of art was initially designed by an AI. We used DALL·E 2 and Midjourney to create concept art, and then had our artists go back over that art to stylise it. If we learned anything from that process, it’s that AI won’t be replacing artists any time soon. The final results were garbled, and required some fine-tuning to get right. Even just arriving at a final result took a while, as we had to keep editing and refining what we wanted. If you want to use AI to create art, go for it! You’ll just have to spend a while learning how to actually drive the thing.

AI art making is more of a new tool for artists rather than a replacement, so rest assured that your art career is not about to be hijacked by robots. But it’s not just artists - we had an AI create writing samples, too, including this week’s recipe, Moaningful Confession, and horoscopes. Those were pretty hilarious, but also pretty clearly written by a machine. So, writers, you’re safe as well. 

That’s the good news. The bad news is that for every creative, curious or artistic person out there trying to make stuff with AI, there’s just as many vile, perverted halfwits who’re using it to cause harm. As you’ll see in one of the features this week, the world of AI-generated porn is already here, and it’s built on a database of real abuse. That article was the single most depraved research experience I’ve ever had the displeasure of looking into. As for writing, there are those who want to use AI to create something funny and irreverent, and there are also those who want to use it to cheat their way through Uni. 

In all of these examples, we found two common themes: firstly, that everyone is pretty much completely gobsmacked as to what to do next. The law has been totally outpaced by the technology, and it’s sort of a Wild West situation online until legislation picks up. The second thing we found is that - like AI coders have been saying since the 60s - AI is not actually that incredible. It is filled with mistakes and frustrations, and getting it to produce anything passable as human-made is incredibly difficult - almost more difficult than actually making it yourself. Learning how to speak to an AI and fine-tune its outputs is an art form on its own. 

So on the one hand, AI is scary because it seems to threaten creative jobs, can be misused by the depraved among us, and makes us question what it means to “create”. But on the other hand, AI is just another tool that we’ve developed to help us live a more interesting and productive life. It takes practice, and it’s ultimately our creation. It’s not a digital God - it’s more of a virtual wishing well: something that you throw a coin into, make a vague request of, and then cross your fingers and hope for the best result. Like any tool, it can be used by the best and the worst of us, and like any tool, it takes practice. But it’s here, it’s new, and it’s certainly going to change the way we work.

We hope you enjoy seeing what it can produce. We had heaps of fun playing with it, and even if the future is a bit scary, at least it’s incredibly interesting.

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2022.
Posted 2:50pm Friday 19th August 2022 by Fox Meyer.