With the development of machine learning and artificial intelligence, a new debate has arrived about whether artwork produced by artificial intelligence programs constitutes real artwork. On one hand artificial intelligence is not human. It is not capable of understanding thoughts and feelings and it cannot experience things the way that people can experience them. On the other hand computers are a tool used by real people to produce artwork. Artificial intelligence did not come into its existence by itself. It was programmed by humans. People also use Photoshop and other types of graphic design programs to create art, so how is using an AI algorithm different?
Although we typically think of art as being created by an artist, many artists use tools. There are also many people involved in the creative process aside from the artist. The pope commissioned Michelangelo to create the Sistine chapel. However Michelangelo is seen as the artist, not the pope.
A separate legal issue arises because artificial intelligence can take an existing piece of artwork and use that to make something new. While copying artistic styles is not a new idea, artificial intelligence can massively simplify the amount of work involved that a person needs to do to make a new rendition of a previously existing artwork. If someone uses an AI to make a new version of your artwork have they violated your intellectual property rights? This is a question that does not have an easy answer and it may also depend on several other factors. This issue is also complicated by the fact that some people use AI artwork for profit.
Regardless of where are you fall in this debate, the increase in AI generated artwork is something that cannot be escaped. The genie is out of the bottle. Just like global warming, it’s happening and we can never go backwards, only forwards. Technology is simply a tool, and keep in mind that AI may be able to create digital artwork easily, but it is much more difficult for them to create sculptures or even hand-painted paintings or hand drawn drawings.