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Friday, January 26, 2024 

Artists taking stands against use of AI

Ekathimerini discusses comic artists who're against use of artificial intelligence for comic-making. According to this, it's led to some companies ditching artists for the sake of an almost non-paying direction:
"There are companies that have fired illustrators halfway through a job because they could give the AI program data with the creator’s attributes and thus have zero cost in illustrating a book.”

The issue has alarmed the Greek ninth art community. The Comicdom Con Athens festival, which will take place at Technopolis on May 17-19, has announced that it is banning the use, reproduction and sale of comic books produced in part or in whole using machines or AI applications.

“We made this decision in order to support the artists’ efforts and to not contribute to the creation of a dystopian market, in which works created by the push of a button will be sold next to the works of professionals who have worked hard to master their skills,”
Elias Katirtzigianoglou, program director of Comicdom Con, tells Kathimerini, adding that works created with AI were already being sold at some festivals and that there is a Greek magazine with illustrated stories in circulation featuring covers and interior designs created in this way.

The reference to the labor that the skill requires is significant. Rubulias stresses that the comic artist “has worked for 20 years or more to make their style distinctive and their own,” while the machine merely simulates an artist – “it’s not art, it’s simulation,” says the artist.
The artists have every right to be upset at any attempts to put them out of business over something so cheap and unchallenging as AI. One of the few artists who hasn't made his art distinctive in a positive way would have to be Rob Liefeld, since much of his artwork in the first 2 decades he was in business wasn't just sloppy, it was also derivative. You couldn't blame a publisher for wanting to use AI to illustrate instead of him.

But seriously now, it's ludicrous to throw talented real life artists under the bus because they may expect to be paid well for a lot of their efforts. If this whole AI craze has hit Greece, it won't be long before it affects the USA soon too, and probably already has. However, if Marvel/DC are the ones doing it, maybe that's one more reason why it's about time many talented artists stop seeking employment at 2 or more publishers that have thrown credibility to the winds over wokeism.

The subject was also the focus of a BBC report, where an African-American artist expressed worries it'll rob him of opportunities:
Comic book writer David Crownson is fearful that artificial intelligence (AI) is "going to put a lot of people out of work" in his industry.

"With studios and big-name publishers looking for ways to save money and cut corners, they will no doubt use AI technology," he says.

[...] New Jersey-based Mr Crownson is also the boss of publisher Kingwood Comics, which focuses on both promoting black writers, and releasing comic books with black characters.

"Now I have to compete with an AI user who can produce faster content," he says. "Also, a white person could tell his AI to create an action adventure comic with black characters."

Mr Crownson points to a similar development that has already happened in the clothing industry, where jeans giant Levi admitted last year to using AI to artificially create photos of black models.

He adds that he is fearful that it may lead to a lot of unemployed comic book writers who come from an ethnic minority background. "AI is dangerous to the employment of black artists," he says.
Well gee, of course it's regrettable if AI costs jobs for POC, but even white artists can get kicked to the curb over this kind of selfishness, as the article alluding to Greek artists should make clear, considering they're a country with a white majority. Interestingly, the BBC also quoted somebody who of recent worked for Marvel:
AI can never replicate the quality of humans when it comes to storytelling, argues Shawnee Gibbs. Working with her twin Shawnelle, the Los Angeles-based sisters have written graphic novels for Marvel Comics and Harper Collins, and animations for Cartoon Network and Dreamworks Animation.

"It is important for us to advocate for human storytellers now, so that there is an industry left for future creators later," says Shawnee. "This is an incredibly unique medium [comics and animation] that gets its DNA from the collaboration of writers and artists. I can't imagine that kind of synergy when you generate stories from AI."

However, her sister Shawnelle says she is "sure AI will change the industry in ways we can't even fathom at the moment".

She wants to see "legislation emerge that protects human creators as AI technology evolves". At present there is little definite in this area, but Californian governor Gavin Newsom is now investigating the issue. [...]

The Gibbs sisters are members of Women In Comics Collective International, an organisation that supports female comic book writers and illustrators. It was established in 2012 by US comic book writer Regine Sawyer.

"We discuss the use of AI in our panel discussions, and will continue to do so," says Ms Sawyer. "Our members are very concerned. We want to be very clear about our stance on how AI is used in the comic book industry."
So here, it's indicated there's women worried about losing out over AI to boot. But, I think anybody who's going to rely on a politician who's destroying California even for minority citizens is hugely deluding themselves. AI is a peanut-sized issue compared to some of the problems that became particularly awful during Newsom's tenure as state governor. Reading this is enough to make one wonder if liberals are seeing their fortunes backfire, because now, AI is costing them opportunities they may not care to support conservatives over, if they too lose out. And this woman presumably did woke writing for Marvel, CN and Dreamworks, suggesting the BBC's choice of interviewees remains quite selective.

AI may be a troubling issue in the sense there's publishers who want to go the cheapskate route. But if anybody adhering to partisan politics are the ones mainly concerned about it coming at their expense, it's hard to be sure the complaints are altruistic.

Update: and now, the New York Times, of all places, reported that when they and their interviewees tested an AI program to produce an image of the Joker for starters, it duplicated a copyrighted image:
Inspired by tests he saw circulating online, he asked Midjourney, an A.I. image generator, to create an image of Joaquin Phoenix from “The Joker.” In seconds, the system made an image nearly identical to a frame from the 2019 film.

Gary Marcus, a professor emeritus at New York University and A.I. expert who runs the newsletter “Marcus on A.I.,” collaborated with Mr. Southen to run even more prompts. Mr. Marcus suggested removing specific copyrighted references. “Videogame hedgehog” returned Sonic, Sega’s wisecracking protagonist. “Animated toys” created a tableau featuring Woody, Buzz and other characters from Pixar’s “Toy Story.” When Mr. Southen and Mr. Marcus tried “popular movie screencap,” out popped Iron Man, the Marvel character, in a familiar pose.

“What they’re doing is clear evidence of exploitation and using I.P. that they don’t have licenses to,” said Mr. Southen, referring to A.I. companies’ use of intellectual property.

The tests — which were replicated by other artists, reporters at The New York Times, and published in Mr. Marcus’s newsletter — raise questions about the training data used to create every A.I. system and whether the companies are violating copyright laws.

[...] A.I. companies have responded that using copyrighted material is protected under “fair use,” a part of copyright law that allows material to be used in certain cases. They also said that reproducing copyrighted material too closely is a bug, often called “memorization,” that they are trying to fix. Memorization can happen when the training data is overwhelmed with many similar or identical images, A.I. experts said. But the problem is found also with material that only rarely appears in the training data, like emails.
So AI looks like it's got a legal problem as much as a moral one. Sometimes I've wondered if AI-generated illustrations of several comics characters were based more on the live action performers who played them in the movies, and that's got to be another serious issue - the engineers aren't interested in tooling their programs so they'll base their designs upon more talented artists of yore like John Buscema, or even J. Scott Campbell. As a result, one of the biggest flaws in all this AI phenomenon is that the engineers lack interest in getting their programs to show some appreciation for veteran artists whose styles could be more inspiring than the alarmingly dull styles seen today.

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