“Navigating the Ethical Landscape of AI Art”

Blog Post Type B (Title from ChatGPT)

Prompt: “Write a 250 word blog post about the ethics of AI art.”


As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to weave its way into the fabric of our daily lives, its presence in the realm of art raises profound ethical questions. AI art, born from the collaboration between human creativity and machine algorithms, brings forth a tapestry of concerns that challenge our understanding of authorship, bias, and the impact of technology on artistic expression.

One significant ethical dilemma revolves around the notion of authorship. When an AI system generates art, who is the true creator? Is it the human programmer who designed the algorithm, the machine itself, or perhaps a collaboration between the two? This ambiguity challenges established concepts of intellectual property and artistic ownership, prompting a reevaluation of legal and ethical frameworks.

Bias in AI art is another critical concern. Machine learning models trained on existing datasets may inadvertently perpetuate societal biases present in those data. If the training data contains biases, the AI-generated art might inadvertently reflect and amplify those biases, perpetuating stereotypes or excluding certain perspectives. Addressing these biases requires a conscious effort to scrutinize and diversify the datasets used to train AI models, ensuring a more inclusive and representative output.

Furthermore, the ethical implications extend to questions of transparency and consent. Viewers may not be aware that they are engaging with AI-generated art, and artists may grapple with the responsibility of disclosing the involvement of machines in the creative process.

In navigating the ethical landscape of AI art, a thoughtful and interdisciplinary approach is crucial. Artists, technologists, ethicists, and policymakers must collaborate to establish guidelines that foster innovation while safeguarding against unintended consequences. As we embark on this exciting journey into the future of artistic expression, it is imperative that we navigate the ethical challenges with mindfulness, ensuring that AI art reflects the diversity and integrity of the human experience.

My take:

As far as this blog post goes, I feel that ChatGPT understands the basics of some of the problems with AI art, but I feel it lacks the understanding of how art impacts the human experience. There’s never a mention of why people use AI image generators in any field, just an analysis of the prompt given to it alongside the end result, while the why of any painting or professional work of art remains a main point of discussion hundreds of years after a painting is created. However, another reason for this omission could be because AI art is so new and such a controversial topic that its current why ties back to its existence and use in an Internet culture.

I also found ChatGPT’s take on ownership overly positive about the relationship between humans and computers. By having the AI perform most of the labor of image creation, the person’s ability to express themselves in a visual space becomes even more limited, because they are still ultimately subservient to the machine’s interpretation of their prompt. Any work of art is the product of millions of decisions, and using an image generator lets it choose 95 percent of them for you. It doesn’t matter if you give it a full paragraph of symbolic images to include; if the existing data set the AI is trained on contains a repeated motif, like a color palette, it will most likely end up in the generated image. And, unlike humans, machines make decisions because that’s all it knows, not because it decided to attach meaning or even just liked the overall visual composition.

Ultimately, I agree with Kelly McKernan’s in The New Yorker article “Is A.I. Art Stealing from Artists?” “[AI art] has no depth, but it serves the purpose that [consumers] want.” Author Kyle Chaka goes on to relate it to instant gratification, but I’d like to question if the concept of AI art counts as a remix. Although we’ve discussed in class that everything is a remix of what came before, should remixes count if there is no intent behind a work of art?

Image credit: User Dids . on Pexels, “Floral Sketch”


  • Garrett Mast

    I personally think that the intent and meaning behind a piece of art is what makes it copyrightable, and is going to be one of the core debates on whether AI art can be copyrighted. Even though we as humans remix things to create new things, the new production won’t be a perfect copy. Doing your best to duplicate Van Gogh’s Starry Night may create a piece that looks fundamentally very similar, but with different pigments and different brushes that touch the canvas in different orders, the meaning behind the painting is going to be very different. In AI art, this meaning can be empirically distilled to an algorithm that processes prompts and inputs in a certain way and thus fails to convey a human meaning that backs any art we create.

  • Brian Croxall

    It’s interesting to raise the question of intent, Hayley, since the person creating the prompt surely has a sort of intent. But it also prompts us to ask what art even is. Is there anything there beyond the intent?

    It was interesting to see ChatGPT consider the ethics of an artist who might use an AI assistant. We tend to not worry about artists using other tools of their trade, right? What makes this one different?

  • Hannah Benson

    I agree with Professor Croxall, and I think its interesting to think about that “intent.” I mean if we look at Jackson Pollock’s splatter paint pieces there doesn’t seem to be much intent there just from looking at it. Pollock could say otherwise but when looking directly at it it can be challenging to discern that intent. Just like with AI art I think that intent can be difficult to say as it gives the consumer what it wants but may not provide that overarching “human” feeling.

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