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  • Julia Serebrisky

Can AI Create Art?

The artwork on the left was created by an AP art student, while the artwork on the right was created by the text-to-image model DALL·E. Each image was created as a response to the same prompt “vitality.” / Credits: Rose Appenzeller and DALL·E

As AI technology advances, it has become increasingly discussed in educational settings. Many students and educators have used ChatGPT and various other AI tools for academic purposes. Whether it’s coming up with essay titles, drafting an email, or fixing grammar mistakes, AI has saved time and improved the quality of work with just a few clicks.

With these technological advancements, OpenAI (the company that owns ChatGPT) was quick to launch their program, DALL·E — a generative model that can create images. The program is capable of creating diverse and creative visual outputs solely based on textual prompts. While teachers of humanities-based subjects have struggled with large language models like ChatGPT, teachers in art departments have similarly had to grapple with AI-generated art.

Walls art teacher Jason Bulluck said that he is decently familiar with the concept of AI art, and has recently been doing more research on the topic. What most intrigues him, however, is the utilization of AI art as a “rigor mirror.” As he described it, art produced through AI is “pretty mediocre stuff, so it would be interesting to see how you distinguish your art from AI” and “it would be really cool to respond to that as a teacher.”

Moreover, the connection between a person and their artwork is deeply interlinked, and while the AI could create a response to any prompt, the artist or viewer will not have the same level of sentimental attachment or emotional reaction to the work. However, Mr. Bulluck has grown to “actually appreciate AI,” explaining that it brings new perspectives to people.

Mr. Bulluck added that while teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he had a grad student, Rebecca Mott, who created her own AI engine, roughly a year before ChatGPT had been released. Mott did not ask for permission, but he says he wasn’t mad because “she made her own AI. She didn’t borrow it,” and thus “it is art.”

Xander Webb (‘24), wrote his senior project paper on AI art. Webb believes that AI art could have a massive impact on education curricula, and said that “we are quickly approaching a world where AI is integrated into nearly every part of our lives . . . [Schools] will begin integrating curriculum based on the functions, uses, and potential of AI to educate the newer generation in using technology that would further our civilization.”

He further hypothesized that “AI generated art is one of the subjects that may be taught. For example, you could have a class dedicated to the creation of AI algorithms that would generate art or a class focused on how best to use and manipulate those AI-generating art algorithms.” However, he does acknowledge that controversy could arise from this use.

Webb explained that “we throw the term ‘artificial intelligence’ around loosely but we have not actually created intelligence. AI cannot think for itself, nor can it comprehend or understand, and therefore it can’t actually create something.” He says that “instead, it takes from the internet and steals copyrighted work to use as material for its own art. This leads to the protests and anger of the people who had their arts stolen, so I imagine that many would be against the integration of AI art into our school curriculums when it’s already viewed negatively as a thief.”

Despite this, he still ultimately believes that “while AI art has a negative reputation, it is ultimately a tool and the morality of a tool lies within the wielder … It entirely depends on the person using the AI.”

“When you get past that knee jerk reaction of believing that all art is going to become AI art, you start to realize that AI art can be used for both good and bad and it’s not right to judge it based on the sliver of information that you have at the time ... I believe that once we’ve hammered out the negative aspects of AI generated art (the plagiarism and copyright) it will serve to have a positive impact on our society.

The artwork on the left was created by an artist, while the artwork on the right was created by DALL·E Both respond to the prompt “color.” / Credits: Rose Appenzeller and DALL·E


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