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The Society of Illustrators vs. Artificial Intelligence

When AI creates art, who should get the credit?


FEB 28, 2023 | ISSUE 11

Illustration By Brandon Hicks

For decades, the concept of artwork created by a computer has been little more than sci-fi speculation. Now, a simple online image search could yield millions of images entirely generated by artificial learning. So, what happened?

Artificial intelligence has been able to identify objects and create text descriptions for images for some time now, but recently developed programs have been taking this concept to a whole new level by reversing this process to create original images from a text description. It does this by scouring the Internet for images that fit a written prompt, then recontextualizes their properties into a new image that the human eye can comprehend.

The current trend of AI image generation began in early 2021, when OpenAI launched its deep-learning model DALL-E. Its name being a portmanteau of surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and the Pixar character WALL-E, the DALL-E image generation software provided striking results. It wasn’t perfect, with most images producing an uncanny...