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Some people say that images generated in AI models like Midjourney is not art, cause you are not an artist, you just push some buttons. Others claim that AI is a tool like any other tool and can generate art if we can convey ideas and emotions through it. I have several questions about it.

  1. What are pros and cons arguments about AI art being a new form of art from philosophical point of view?

  2. Is it a similar situation that first photographers faced? Or it's very different, cause in photo art when it appeared the tool was very simple and you still did most of the job and now it's conceptually different?

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  • Maybe... What is Art? Commented Jan 25 at 14:20
  • Depends on what "new form of art" means. Certainly, other than the mechanization aspect, there seems to be nothing new introduced from an aesthetics standpoint. Aesthetics (IEP).
    – J D
    Commented Jan 26 at 18:39

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I think there are 2 questions here that are important to untangle. One question is "is it art?" and the other question is "If it is art, who is the artist?"

It's my stance that the second question is the more important one. AI is already capable of producing things people find beautiful, sometimes meaningful, and occassionally even passes as human-made art. So, if it's capable of being experienced as art, there's in my mind not much of a difference between being indistinguishable from art and being art. So, just for a second, let's take it for granted that AI art IS (or can occassionally be) art.

Once we take that for granted, we can still ask "So who is the artist?" Some people liken AI to a tool, and when they say that, they're implicitly (sometimes explicitly) making the claim that The Prompt Writer is the artist. I think that claim is very, very contentious, and should be questioned.

In a pre-AI world, in the world we lived in just a few years ago, before Midjourney started turning heads, people still made prompts for other intelligences to interpret and make art out of. Those other intelligences, taking the prompts and making art, were other human beings. We call this a "commission". When you give a prompt to another human being and they make a picture for you, most people DO NOT consider the Prompt Writer to also be The Artist - they consider the person who actually produced the imagery The Artist.

If I paid an Artist to depict a prompt, and then later presented the finished piece as my creative work, and called myself The Artist, people would generally consider that dishonest. That's basically plagiarism or creative theft.

I believe AI art should, in 99% of cases, be considered analogous to this. Instead of paying a person and giving them a prompt, you're now giving the prompt to an AI -- but it's still effectively the same as the Commission scenario. You're giving a prompt to someone (or something) else - some other intelligence - and they are taking your prompt and turning it into an image. If you shouldn't be considered the artist when another Human makes the image, why should you be considered the artist when an artificial intelligence does so? In my opinion, you should not.

Now, I would like to carve out a little exception here for some people who use AI art as part of an artistic work flow, and don't just take what the AI produces and calls that their finished work. There are ways to use the output of the AI fairly - but most AI images are not using the output to produce their own art, the output of the AI is in 99% of cases the finished piece, and in those cases, it's essentially a commission.

So if the prompt maker in 99% of cases isn't rightfully The Artist, then who is? Perhaps the AI itself? Perhaps the programmers and designers of the AI software? Perhaps the thousands and thousands of artists whose work was used to train the AI? Perhaps all of the above have a stake. I'm not sure about the answer to that.

AI is not "just a tool" in these 99% of cases. No tool previously made so many creative decisions as AI does. AI is a commission artist, not just a tool, in most cases.

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    The difference is that you often spend many hours working with prompts, angles, wording etc etc to achieve a good result. It's very different than just paying for your portrait, it's real job if dome professionally. It looks you didn't have this experience. Of course we can call is a variant of digital craftsmanship, still not an art, but that's a more nuanced difference, than just paying someone and getting a ready result.
    – user68439
    Commented Jan 26 at 15:29
  • @Growing_strong if you hire an artist to work for you, you can also ask that artist to try changing this or that, try changing the mood - you can change your prompt as you're working with a human artist as well. AI only makes this process cheaper and the iterations faster.
    – TKoL
    Commented Jan 26 at 15:42
  • I'm certainly not saying that there's no skill at all in promp craftsmanship, but I don't believe that skill is the kind of skill that warrants the label 'artist'.
    – TKoL
    Commented Jan 26 at 15:43
  • I could say that the will behind creation is also important. An artist has some motivation and inspiration even if you pay. AI model is totally a tool, you create things with it by your will and desire and skill. It's closer to a sophisticated camera that you control, than to ordering from artist. You move camera, you choose filters, you choose settings, zooms. Is photo art also commision then?
    – user68439
    Commented Jan 26 at 16:05
  • *** I don't believe that skill is the kind of skill that warrants the label 'artist -- this is very debatable. Looking at some results and skills they need I as a hobbyist ( not an artist) will disagree
    – user68439
    Commented Jan 26 at 16:06

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