In the world of digital art, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a contested topic. Each new text-to-image trend is closely followed by resounding questions and concerns. There is no denying that the output quality attained by current AI technology is impressive. AI art tools are simple to access, and user friendly, tempting even those who have never been artistically inclined. This creates worry for trained, professional artists (the human kind). It is not only a question of AI’s impact on the work of artists, but also one of whose work the AI model uses to develop its own output. It is often unclear whether Intellectual Property (IP) has been misused. Moreover, how does one credit AI appropriately? Do you credit AI?
2022 was a big year for applications we, the public, could actually touch, use, try. Mainstream discussion of AI grew as quickly as the frequency of news excitedly announcing progress. Many of the most talked about AI models were, or are, publicly available. It’s hard to beat the word of mouth created by curious testers turned avid users. In the early summer of 2022, alarm bells were sounded by a lone researcher at Google. Its language model, LaMDA, had spoken to him in a way that demonstrated sentience. It quickly turned out that LaMDA did not in fact possess consciousness, but was very good at mining it. The researcher was sacked, but the conversation burned on. Soon after, text-to-image models like Dall-E 2, and Stable Diffusion began dominating the conversation. Then came the fireworks lit by ChatGPT’s arrival.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT made its public debut on November 30th. Months later, it is still often at capacity, prompting users to virtually que for its use. The coverage it has received is immense. Top journalists have endlessly quizzed their professional counterparts, tapping AI experts from varying fields to help explain what ChatGPT actually means for professions such as their own. In 2021 Sam Altman, one of the founders behind OpenAI, Tweeted “Prediction: AI will cause the price of work that can happen in front of a computer to decrease much faster than the price of work that happens in the physical world. This is the opposite of what most people (including me) expected, and will have strange effects.” He certainly wasn’t far off.
Accommodating the use of AI is happening simultaneously in areas that do, and do not overlap. Many would never share a headline, until now. All at once, emerging applications of AI are changing major industries all over the globe. Many, for the better, but for others the jury is still out. The Healthcare industry is quickly adopting the use of AI, as are the Industrial, Transportation, Finance, Manufacturing Industries – among a growing list. However, there are questions of ethics, monopolies, and what AI’s rivalry means for the people whose tasks it is taking over. Some foresee a hybrid human-AI relationship, where it is harnessed for increased productivity in a way comparable to the introduction of the computer, or the internet. Others are truly worried that their craft may disappear.
There is also the risk of bias and discrimination. Dr. Sanjiv M. Narayan of the Stanford University School of Medicine explains; “Bias in training data is the bias that everybody thinks about. AI is trained to learn patterns in data. If a particular dataset has bias, then AI – being a good learner – will learn that too.
Some years ago, Amazon introduced a new AI-based algorithm to screen and recruit new employees. When they looked closely, it turned out that the data used for training came primarily from white men over a 10-year period. Using this system, new applicant resumes were downgraded if they contained the terms “women’s” or “women’s colleges.” Amazon stopped using this system.”
Some of the biggest bets in AI remain with many of the tech giants we are all too familiar with. Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has made some of the largest investments in AI technology as it continues pursuing its vision of upcoming innovations in 3D, and immersive experiences. Microsoft has heavily invested in OpenAI, the research lab vying for a $29B valuation in response to the highly publicized product line of Dall-E 2, ChatGPT, and other projects such as Whisper.
Sam Altman, left, one of the founders of OpenAI, and Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, agreed to a $1 billion investment by Microsoft in 2019.Credit…Ian C. Bates for The New York Times
Whether ensuring data sets do not present bias, or minding use of copyrighted work, large measures of accountability also live with these companies. Just as personal privacy, or data use, are extremely scrutinized areas which require transparency, the development and use of AI technology warrants much due diligence, and consideration of ethical, and socio-economic impact.
As AI technology continues to evolve and improve, it is likely that we will see even more disruption. While the prospect of AI-driven disruption can be daunting, it also presents a wealth of opportunities for businesses and individuals to improve efficiency, productivity, and creativity in their respective industries. Overall, AI is changing the way we live and work, and its impact on various industries is undeniable. As we continue to embrace this technology, it is vital that we do so with a keen awareness of its potential consequences and strive to use it in ways that benefit everyone.