With respect to AI, some people appear to have an objection to the idea of

feed[ing an] AI with other people's works and then claim[ing] all the output as yours.

Let's create the following hypothetical scenario.

An AI and a human art student are both presented with the exact same set of copyrighted pictures to study. After studying them both produce a new work of art (a picture) based on what they have learned. Both new works are different from any of the originals but have some similarities in style or techniques. Both new works are based on the same source material and are theretofore very similar.

Many people would call what the AI did copyright violation or insist that every work used to train it be cited.

But very few people would have an issue with what the art student did.

Whether it be a human or a machine, in both cases, Neural networks examined objects and then created output based on what was learned. From an ethical standpoint one would think that the form of the machine should make little difference (gears, vacuum tubes, transistors or chemical machinery of living cells).

Neural networks are heavily modeled on the way human brains work. So even if the form of the machine did matter, one would think that it should matter much less for neural network based Artificial Intelligence (as opposed to a traditional computer program).

So why try and legally disincentivize one but not the other?

Why do many people choose to make that distinction?

From an ethical standpoint shouldn't the two be identical equivalent (or nearly so)?

I do acknowledge that some content creators may think they have a financial interest in limiting the use of AI. But aren't they just making an arbitrary moral distinction based on their own financial interest?

I acknowledge that an AI is not a human being. But as AI progresses towards the point of sentience, then at some point, what we are doing just becomes discrimination.

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    The idea is that human learning is transformative (or should be so), whereas AI "learning" is merely mechanical, algorithmic. When human use is not transformative, it is (supposed to be) treated as infringement as well, but in the case of AI there is no need to even investigate, it can be inferred by design. Rightly or wrongly, the preconception is that artificial neural networks are merely a surrogate of the original, and do not measure up to it. Deeply ingrained psychological biases about "soul" surely play a role, but even objectively, current ANN are rather simplistic in comparison.
    – Conifold
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 20:23
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    This is because unlike humans, AI can be owned essentially making it a slave. Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 21:40
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    @IdiosyncraticSoul I don't see how the ethics of this scenario would change even a little by using a public domain AI model which could not be owned. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 18:01
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    @NuclearHoagie My simple way of thinking is this: You can't sue a camera for plagarism. Slave is the wrong word. It should be "personal property". Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 18:07
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    @IdiosyncraticSoul There may be AI models for which no one owns the copyright, and courts have already ruled that AI-generated material can't be copyrighted. I don't see the ethics changing whether someone owns the AI or not. The camera analogy falls flat for me, one's inability to sue a camera stems from the fact that it's not a legal entity, not the fact that it's property. You can sue a business despite the fact that it has an owner. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 19:44

9 Answers 9


The training sets for generative AI systems are orders of magnitude larger than the number of images or words that a human being sees in a lifetime. If you trained a neural net on only the images that the art student studied, it most likely would produce an obvious, slavish copy of the input, if its output was coherent at all. If the art student did the same, they probably would be accused of plagiarism. As the number of images in the training set increases far beyond human capacity, it becomes harder to identify the contribution of each one, but the basic operating principles are the same.

People are able to extrapolate from fewer examples because there are other things going on in the brain that aren't modeled in the generative AI systems. Those other things are why all that art exists in the first place.

In many ways, your question assumes its conclusion. If the art student and the generative AI, trained on the same images, produced similar output, then it would be unreasonable to treat them differently. If the ethical concerns were about the "form of the machine", rather than about a large number of small-time artists losing commissions and the profits that formerly went to them going instead to a small number of wealthy corporations who flaunted copyright law in order to train their models on the work of the independent artists without their permission, then perhaps there would be no logic in the ethical concerns. If progress in AI research leads at some point to an AI that is obviously a "person", then at some point it becomes unreasonable to not treat it as a person.

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    @user4574, there is no algorithm that can make an ML system work with just a few examples like a human can, unless that algorithm already incorporates human-like intelligence. How is the algorithm going to recognize what is relevant in the training set without a huge number of examples to show it? Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 1:24
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    @DavidGudeman Can a human ever only have "a few examples" ? The student asked to get inspiration from 5 artists would already have a database of twenty years of seeing the world through his eyes, and thousands of different drawings and artpiece seen randomly throughout his years. If you put someone in the dark for twenty years, then show him five pictures and ask him to draw a sixth, I'm not sure you can guarantee the work won't be extremely derivative.
    – Jemox
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 8:01
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    @Echox, you are right, and that's part of the point. Humans have developed in their mind a great number of very sophisticated analog models of the world, and they interpret whatever they see according to those models. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 8:06
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    @Brondahl "45fps. That's 1.4 billion frames a year" - quite exaggerated; most of the time you'll have thousands of consecutive frames that are just slight variations of the same image, and the scenes also tend to repeat daily. Whereas the billions of images an art AI is trained on are mostly really different images with only some repetitions. A human does certainly encounter millions of image during their lifetime, but at least most of these aren't copyrighted. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 12:44
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    @NotThatGuy "Does using more data imply plagiarism? Shouldn't it be the other way around?" I'd say neither more or less data should make it more or less plagiarism, but it seems reasonable that a higher fraction of peoples' copyrighted work in the data plays a role. The AIs discussed here are trained pretty much exclusively on copyrighted material. A human artist is trained on a mixture of copyrighted material and personal sensory input. Hard to attribute how much of each turns up in the their artworks. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 12:59

Neural networks are not modelled on the way the brain works because no one knows how the brain works. At best a neural network is an extremely limited and highly idealized simulation of a model based on a rather controversial theory of how the brain works. At worst the term "neural network" is just a marketing buzzword with no real connection to brain theory.

Furthermore, there is no reason to assume that modeling the brain would properly simulate a mind anyway except for materialists, and not everyone is a materialist. And even for materialists, it's a bizarre sort of theory in which a simulation is supposed to somehow generate a real-world effect of what is simulating. No one thinks that if you simulate gravity in a physics engine on a computer that it will generate real-world gravity, so even if the mind is just an aspect of the brain, why would simulating a brain on a computer generate a real-world mind?

From another point of view, there is no reason to think what happens inside an ML program when it reproduces patterns from its training data is anything remotely like what happens inside a human mind when it creates new things based on examples. The criteria of success used by the programmers is not that the program mimics the mind but that it mimics behavior. They aren't even really aiming at the mind, so there is no reason they have successfully simulated the mind.

The aspects that the human notices are likely to be much different from the aspects that the AI stores in its model. The human draws associations to other things in his life, which the computer does not do. In language-based jobs the human is working based on the meanings of what he has read, not the text, whereas (at least in current technology) the computer does not even try to model meaning; it only models text patterns.

In general, there is no good reason to believe the premise of your question and some very good reasons to doubt it. If you want to prove that computer-generated content is produced by the same process as human-based content, you have a great deal of work to do.


In response to a lengthy critique below, allow me to clarify a few things. First, the brain contains neurons and those neurons can trigger each other into firing. That's basic brain anatomy. However, that's not the same as saying that the neurons in the brain work together to constitute any sort of computing device, much less the specific type of computing device called a neural network. People working in AI seem to think the notion that the neurons constitute a neural network is uncontroversial, but it's not uncontroversial among anatomists and others who study actual brains.

Materialism suggests that the mind arises as some sort of effect of the brain; it does not imply that the effect that gives rise to mind is something that can be simulated on a computer. There is no good reason (that I've ever heard) to ignore the difference between living cells and dead silicon, no reason to discount the effects of the biological systems, no reason to think that all that is needed is some sort of formal analogy between how a brain operates and how a computer program operates. No matter how well you simulate how the brain operates, there is no good reason to think that a mind will pop out of it, just like no matter how well you simulate how gravity operates, there is no reason to think that you will suddenly be pulled towards the computer. The reason this assumption is so common among AI researchers and philosophers (I claim) is because the assumption is necessary for their research. If they can't make that assumption, they have nowhere to go.

Me pointing out lack of evidence for your assumptions is not the same as making assumptions of my own. Nothing in the above discussion assumes that there is anything special about the mind. I made one small point about how not everyone is a materialist, but the rest of my argument is perfectly compatible with a materialist world view. As I said, being a materialist does not imply that you have to have any particular beliefs about exactly how the mind arises from the brain.

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    Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 7:57
  • Thought is a simulation, so I think the whole line of argument there is barking up the wrong painting of a tree.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:47
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    @ScottRowe, "thought is a simulation" is a category error. Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 0:56
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    @ScottRowe, (1) just because you can't imagine another possibility doesn't mean there are no other possibilities, and (2) just because some instances of thought have characteristics that might be attributable to something like a simulation doesn't mean that all thought has this character. What were you simulating when you came up with that idea, for example? Note that to simulate something, you have to have a model of how it works. Coming up with the model is not simulation. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 12:35
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    I just reread your answer thoroughly because I like your posts. To me, it doesn't matter what AI is or what a mind is. An earthmover doesn't simulate a thousand guys with shovels, but it gets the job done. Farm tractors no longer need humans to drive them, but the food comes out just as good. We are looking at a complete change to everything that can be 'simulated', for lack of a better word. The words, ideas and opinions do not matter. Bigger effects at lower cost matter. Anyway, my thoughts are of no consequence.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 21:58

The premise is flawed because humans and AIs do not use the same processes, at least currently.

As Davie Gudeman's answer already points out, humans and AIs at least at present do not use the same processes. (I do take slight issues with his contention that "neural network" might just be a marketing buzzword. It was used in academia to describe certain types of programmed systems long before there was anything like a marketable product for there to be a buzzword around.)

For one things, while art tends to build on prior art and humans tend to be inspired by art they see, a human will bring other things into their art that an AI, at present, cannot. The AI systems that generate images do not draw inspiration from nature at least unless that nature was reduced to a carefully curated image and fed into it as art. No present AI system can draw inspiration from mood or emotion, because they lack such a thing.

AI systems also lack intentionality. Now, I have to admit that in certain deterministic forms of philosophy or if philosophical zombies were to actually exist, it might be argued that humans lack intentionality at least in the sense we want to believe they have it. But humans seem to possess intentionality while AI does not give off the same sense of intentionality.

If a truly sentient AI were ever developed, it is likely that the law, at least in a system similar to the US, would recognize them as being effectively human.

Currently, there is a clear distinction between an AI and a human. No AI has intentionality, no AI has emotions or feelings, no AI can put in effort which at least theoretically was the basis for copyright in the first place.

If an AI ever became truly sentient and displayed all of those things, then it is likely that law, at least in any system similar to what is presently in place in the US, would recognize it as a "person" as that term is defined in law. Notably, person for law already includes corporations, but a corporation is treated as acting through its officers and those officers have emotions, intentionality, and exert effort. It would be a small stretch to extend the definition to include a fully sentient and sapient AI.

Incidentally, the blog the Law and the Multiverse addresses this issue repeatedly, with Non-Human Intelligences III: Categories perhaps being a strong example. While I sometimes disagree with his conclusions, Ryan Davidson is a lawyer and provides thoughtful analysis. While entirely fictional and showing its age now, Asimov's The Bicentennial Man is essentially a meditation on this question.

Also, whether or not what ChatGPT and other AIs presently do is copyright violation is very much an open question under the law. My off the cuff suspicion is that it will be found to depend on the circumstances but will generally be found to be protected by fair use, but it remains to be seen and I have not taken the time to do a full analysis. (If I find that time, I will likely submit it to a law journal before mentioning it on stack exchange.). It is presently fairly well settled that what comes out of AI cannot be registered for copyright. I wrote that up as a blog post myself a couple of weeks ago. But that turns on the current understanding of the word "author". If an AI is ever recognized as sentient and sapient, the analysis may well change.

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    AI of the ChatGPT variety is built to be prompt-driven: they don't do anything unless you tell it to do something. But there are also AIs that interact in an environment, that take in input and act accordingly, much like one could argue humans do. If autonomous AI were more popular or advanced, I suspect the intentionality argument would seem a lot less compelling.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 0:38
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    FWIW, my reference to marketing buzzwords was not to neural nets in general, but to the use of the term in the marketing materials for specific products. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 11:17
  • @NotThatGuy I agree with you, and that might be the path to AGI or sentient and sapient AI, but for now the key word is "if". Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 13:08
  • @DavidGudeman That's fair and in that sense I agree with you, but I think its worth noting that it has a genuine technical meaning quite aside from any use in marketing. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 13:09
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    Perhaps I should have said "current AI". No current AI has passed the Turing test, and its rather debatable whether passing the turning test is sufficient anyway, it is just the best we have currently. Also, even the existence true sapient, sentient, AGI would not necessarily indicate the obsoletion of humans. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 13:30

Many people, whether justified or not, whether consciously or not, believe that (human) brains are fundamentally special, that we are capable of "creativity", that we have "free will", that we might have "souls", and so forth.

Computers, on the other hand, computers are just 1s and 0s. They take some input, perform some calculations that we told it to do, and pop out some output.

Given those positions, it's not hard to see why there is a distinction between the two.

It might also be worth looking to more primitive algorithms. If we were to, for example, take a picture and simply increase one colour of every pixel by some small constant, this is still very close to the original, and would be a clear copyright violation. The things you can do in Photoshop is much more complex than that, but most of that will still classify as copyright violations. AI is still very new, so people just group it with all the other algorithms by default. For them to be convinced otherwise, one would need to make that case.

* If a person applies a sequence of algorithms to an image, that might constitute a transformative enough change to classify as a new piece of art. But in that case, the person would be deciding on the sequence, so that part would still be seen as human, not algorithmic.

As for whether brains are fundamentally special, materialists tend not to accept that. But materialism isn't that common among laypeople (most people are still theists, and theists tend to not be materialists).

I expect even materialists would draw a distinction between the brain and AI, given how much more complex the brain is. Whether this distinction is justified here is hard to say. Based on how different many of the images are from the originals, I'd say it's probably not justified to put that on the super-simple copyright-violation end of that (at best, it's on some blurry line in the middle).

What might complicate matters is that some AI-generated images were singled out for being very similar to the originals, in ways that would probably classify as copyright violations if a human produced those, from the original images.

So this certainly reinforces the idea that AI just isn't complex enough to classify as transformative (even if this is a bit of cherry-picking).

What complicates matters even further is that AI can produce a functionally-infinite amount of art. Quite a few artists are worried about their livelihood, and some consumers may dislike the reduced "specialness" of art. This doesn't say anything about whether AI is functionally transformative, but making it legal may have consequences that people don't want (on the other side of things, it could also make custom art more accessible, and allow artists to use AI to complement their work, whereas the risk of losing one's job is a common fear with many new technologies - it may be a plausible risk, but it also stops society from potentially reaching somewhere better).

(Disclaimer: not a lawyer)

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    @user4574 calculators, mowers and computers all fulfill well-confined tasks. You know what you wanted, you get it. Art, and arguably more generally creativity, doesn't work this way. Sure, AI may be able to generate movies à la carte, but is that desirable? I'd say not. Watching them may optimally stimulate your brain's pleasure centres, but the same could be achieved by planting electrodes there. Art should do more than that: it creates a shared culture, it introduces provocative ideas, it makes voices heard you wouldn't otherwise have considered. Removing that is a horrible idea IMO. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 13:32
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    @leftaroundabout "Art should..." - eek. Art may provide all the things you mentioned, but to say it "should" is dystopianarily prescriptivist. Art that exists merely to evoke joy, sadness, excitement, is perfectly valid too. For what it's worth, as a general rule, art provides none of the things you mentioned to me. Although it certainly depends whether you're talking about art as a whole or individual pieces of art. For art as a whole, I might agree with you, but that isn't necessarily lost with the addition of AI-art, as that needn't altogether replace human-made art.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 14:03
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    @NotThatGuy I stand by it, art should do these things. You can call that prescriptivist, or just say they are defining characteristics of what is or isn't art. The term for "art" without these characteristics is kitsch. Now, if a human creates art there can always be debate about whether it really was art or just kitsch. But even if a movie studio ordered some formulaic blockbuster, the human director will still be able to insert some kind of subversive message. I don't see that with AI, or even if it could I don't see the same societal value in it. Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 14:22
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    @leftaroundabout Many gamers who are "serious about it" compete exclusively against AI opponents. But it might depend on how you define being "serious about it" - if you mean making a career out of it (e.g. tournaments or streaming), that would be begging the question, because structures that allow you to make money can fit into some vague definition of "culture", so people who make money indeed make money. Also, what about all the people who aren't "serious" about it? That's a huge market for AI to fill. And even many people who are "serious" about it still frequently "casually" play games.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 23:08
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    @leftaroundabout "Art should ... introduce provocative ideas". I once asked the Bing image generator to create a picture of "Davinci's last supper with everyone on their cell phone". The point was to illustrate how technology keeps people from being present during important moments. In my opinion the AI did a very good job of conveying a compelling idea (even if Jesus did have 6 fingers).
    – user4574
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 0:21

Other answerers have already addressed the flawed premise of your question, specifically that in fact AIs and humans do not perform nearly identical processes to produce art.

I would like to address the idea that if humans and AIs performed identical processes to produce art, then the art should be treated the same way. This viewpoint is proposed in the question and conceded by @benrg's answer, which says

If the art student and the generative AI, trained on the same images, produced similar output, then it would be unreasonable to treat them differently.

I think this concession is incorrect. That is, even if humans and AIs did produce artwork of equivalent quality using equivalent processes, it would still be reasonable and right to treat the art produced by them differently in law.

The philosophical basis of copyright law, at least in the US, is described succinctly by the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 which states that the US Congress shall have the power

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

There is a clear mechanism by which securing copyrights for human creators could "promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts": by giving creators a monopoly on marketing their own work, creators have a financial incentive to create works which they might not otherwise create.

In contrast, securing this right for art-generating AIs would not "promote" the creation of new work, because art-generating AIs do not respond to financial incentives. They create art whenever a button is clicked. We also don't need to incentivise humans to click it more, because whoever wants to consume more AI-created art can click the button themselves.

The point at which AI-created art should be financially incentivised by copyright protection, is the point at which incentivising humans to create it will plausibly cause more and/or better AI-created art to exist for those who want to consume it. That point is subject to debate, but in current law it is based on the human having creative input into the process.

In summary, we treat human-created and AI-created art differently in law because extending copyright protection to AIs would not have the same useful consequences as extending it to humans is supposed to.

  • I'm upvoting this not because I agree with copyright law, but because I agree with the presented analysis of copyright law. It seems obvious that the law will continue to be stressed by novel cases, but that's been the case ever since the introduction of copyright.
    – Corbin
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 23:02
  • Yes. We need rights to things because we need to make a living. In a world where making a living was not necessary, the rights would have less purpose. Also for means such as AI that don't need to make a living, rights are similarly unnecessary.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 23:19
  • "In contrast, securing this right for art-generating AIs would not "promote" the creation of new work". I would argue that art-generating AIs create new work much faster than humans, and therefore protecting it legally would lead to a lot more art being created. And of course, the related case of legally protecting the use by humans of AI generated art for commercial purposes, would probably create entire industries. Custom paintings, t-shirts, books, movies, etc. all mass produced as a service at a price accessible to all.
    – user4574
    Commented Apr 27 at 6:24
  • @user4574 That is a non-sequitur. Generative AIs produce work when a button is clicked, they do not contemplate their legal and economic circumstances to decide whether producing work will be profitable for them. Granting copyright to generative AIs will not incentivise them to create any more work, because generative AIs do not respond to such incentives. On the contrary, giving the copyright to the AI instead of the human who operates the AI would disincentivise the use of AIs by humans to create work.
    – kaya3
    Commented Apr 27 at 11:52
  • That is, what you call "the related case of legally protecting the use by humans of AI generated art for commercial purposes" ─ i.e. that the copyright belongs to the human operator, not the AI ─ is the status quo (depending on jurisdiction and the "modicum of creativity" involved in operating the AI). Another alternative to promote economic activity would be to say that AI generated works are ineligible for copyright, allowing all commercial use by anyone. Either way, the potential economic benefits would be eliminated if the copyright were given to the AI instead.
    – kaya3
    Commented Apr 27 at 11:58

You might be overthinking this as there is nothing deeply philosophical about why human beings and digital computers aren't both treated as persons in the philosophical sense. Current AI systems aren't remotely close to being people. In philosophy, this belonging to the category is known as personhood. From WP:

Personhood is the status of being a person. Defining personhood is a controversial topic in philosophy and law and is closely tied with legal and political concepts of citizenship, equality, and liberty. According to law, only a legal person (either a natural or a juridical person) has rights, protections, privileges, responsibilities, and legal liability.

Personhood is more than whether or not we can do arithmetic or write English. Personhood is a far deeper concept that revolves around how we fundamentally conceptualize human beings, animals, and machines. In fact, history has shown that often other human beings are objectified and not treated as people. Slavery in the US is a shining example of such behavior after computers were invented. Our brains are wired with in-group, out-group logic to begin with. Simply put, evolution hasn't equipped us with large portions of our brains to empathize and emulate and socialize with machines. That being said, it should be noted that at this point, the most sophisticated AI in the most sophisticated packaging at best might arouse the anxiety that comes from the uncanny valley.

Now, that being said, if AI becomes AGI in the sense that the intelligence is truly-human level, encompases affective computing, an is put in a package that is much closer to our biological bodies, then you have uncharted territory. Of course, that's the premise of movies like I Robot, AI, and Bicentennial Man.

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    I'm upvoting this not just for rhyming with my answer, but for denoting and explaining the wider philosophical context of personhood, with slavery being only one example of a family of issues.
    – Corbin
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 22:57
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    @Corbin I appreciate it, and thank Isaac Asimov for teaching me about life. ; )
    – J D
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 22:58
  • +1 Ditto, also Asimov is great!
    – Hokon
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 23:01
  • @Hokon You up here in the Second City?
    – J D
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 23:03
  • No, my parents are up north, and I visit them from time to time, but I'm further south in Illinois.
    – Hokon
    Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 23:04

By "AI" I'll presume that you mean robots: chatbots and other generative tools. Then the answer is simple: robots are mechanical replacements for slaves; where a slave is a human owned as property, a robot is an embodied algorithm owned as property. In societies which permit/endorse slavery, slaves are distinct from citizens and do not have a full palette of human rights. Similarly, in societies with robots, robots are distinct from humans and do not have rights. The word "robot" was originally introduced to English to describe forced laborers.

  • Think robot with 10,000 industrial strength arms vs human. People simply are not seeing the problem here.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:42
  • @ScottRowe: Humans without industrial-strength arms cannot "perform nearly identical processes" to robots with industrial-strength arms. Please double-check the premises.
    – Corbin
    Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 16:25
  • From the example that makes up the bulk of the question, the OP seems to mean "AI" in the sense of academic artificial intelligence and machine learning research, and systems related to that, not robotic machines. And certainly not modern-day industrial robots. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 14:25
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    @JohnBollinger: A computer is a mechanical system which embodies algorithms. There is no rule against solid-state mechanics.
    – Corbin
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 17:44
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    In common English usage, "electronic" and "mechanical" are distinct, contrasting domains. But if you want to call some programs "robots" (and some do) then again, what are the actual distinguishing characteristics of your "robots", and how does that clarify or qualify "AI"? Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 17:58

I agree with the OP that humans adapt things from each other all the time. In a research context we (usually) cite our sources, but the same concern does not apply to artistic adaptation.

Unlike areas where AI can present a safety risk (e.g. self-driving cars), in art the main harm from the unauthorized creation of a "sufficiently close" version of the artists work is the loss of benefits to the artist from their work (e.g., as one poster pointed out in copyright law).

I think the issue is largely that, at least for now, epistemological: we cannot audit the inputs that were actually used to produce a given human artistic work but we can (by design) do that with an AI.

Therefore, it is all too easy to show that the AI used exactly these particular artists' works to create its output, and hence that output would not have been made had it not been for those inputs.

Of course, as the OP points out (correctly) human artists do a very similar thing when they go to art school or study art -- the key is that nobody can prove (unless it's quite blatant) that they merely recombined the work of others.


If you can't judge from the work you're judging the one that did it.

All arguments against AI for how it works are flawed because nothing ensures that is how AI works. AI is growing and changing even now.

All arguments for Humans for how they work are flawed because nothing ensures that is how humans work. Humans are evolving and changing even now.

So in the end the only honest answer here is:


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    In other words, we haven't really smacked face first in to the actual problem yet. But we will...
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Sep 22, 2023 at 23:43
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    "All arguments against AI for how it works are flawed because nothing ensures that is how AI works" -- well, no. Arguments based on how AI works are specific to systems that in fact work that way. They may not be general to everything we call "AI", now or in the future, but that does not make such arguments flawed as applied to AI that indeed does work as postulated. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 14:16
  • @JohnBollinger such arguments aren’t the arguments under discussion. Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 15:46
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    Those are among the arguments that you yourself brought into the discussion. But even if you had not, why shouldn't they be under discussion? Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 17:50

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