Blame AI Art’s Exploiters, Not the Technology

Tony Peak
4 min readFeb 22, 2023
ID 16511399 © Vladislav Ociacia | Dreamstime.com

“When falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness?”

Mary Shelley; ‘Frankenstein’

The current AI controversy, regarding its manufacture of art, bothers me on several levels.

First, it’s frustrating that people who are too lazy to learn the skills to write, paint, etc., are using these AI apps to do it for them — who then try to profit from their creations. Using the apps for private, personal projects is relatively harmless; I’ve used NightCafe to make character portraits for my Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Playing around with Midjourney to make mashups of films that never existed provides a laugh or two. I know of professional artists who use these apps to enhance their paintings, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Using ChatGPT to aid with editing/parsing text is fine, too. These are tools, after all, and should be regarded as such.

But when the creations of these tools flood an already-saturated market, the trouble starts — particularly for artists.

These apps draw from the work of human artists to create a project. Yet these human artists receive no payment or royalties for this; the process is little better than stealing. Some apps even have presets in the style of a particular artist, and the presets are not limited to deceased artists. This amounts to plagiarism, and it has already happened. One of the most prestigious science fiction magazines, Clarkesworld, recently closed to submissions due to a deluge of submitted stories — created by AI.

This isn’t art. These exploiters are using AI tools to game the system in an attempt to reap its rewards without doing the work. This makes it much harder for real writers — yes, I said it — to have their work considered by that publisher. This is only the beginning. These ‘novels’ will inundate Amazon KDP with titles made on the fly, for the pure purpose of profit rather than story. A human writer cannot compete with that potential output. People complain about gatekeeping in the publishing industry, but the rise of such apps will guarantee it becomes a reality, since only the work of established authors is likely to be considered. I shouldn’t have to point out how much more difficult this makes things…

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Tony Peak

Science Fiction & Fantasy author, member of SFWA, HWA, & Planetary Society; represented by Ethan Ellenberg