Artists fear being replaced by AI

New apps fromartificial intelligence state-of-the-art have delighted Internet users in recent days, but they amuse artists much less. In the circles of video gameanimated film, illustration, many of them fear being replaced by this promising technology within a few years.

At 41, Jonathan Jourdenais finally feels like he’s just beginning to establish himself in the animation world in Montreal. The fruit of many years of perfecting, struggling from contract to contract. This shows the frustration that inhabits him when he notices that a neophyte can now become an artist in a few hours thanks to artificial intelligence software, such as Midjourney and DALL-E.

“It’s as if I couldn’t run, and all of a sudden, bionic legs were coming out that would allow me to run a marathon even faster than people who have been training for it all their lives. . I would not have deserved it”, illustrates Jonathan Jourdenais. Those who make a living with digital art today consider that technology has gone too far, that a point of no return has been reached.

Admittedly, artificial intelligence does not yet have the same precision as the work of a true professional artist, especially when it is in the hands of ordinary people. But it won’t be long, he fears. “I heard about Midjourney for the first time this summer, remembers Jonathan Jourdenais. We wrote a few words, and the software produced a painting for us. We found it funny, it was so naive. It’s only a few months later, and it’s become very realistic. Mr. and Mrs. Everybody don’t see the difference, and even I get caught. I recently learned that an Instagram account I was following was generated by artificial intelligence. »

A question of rights too

A 2D artist in the video game industry, Kristèle Pelland is also baffled by the lightning speed at which artificial intelligence has improved. Worried, she calls for a collective reflection, even if she knows “that once the toothpaste is out, you can’t put it back in the tube”.

“My profession will change, it is certain, it is inevitable. But I don’t think artificial intelligence will completely replace humans. Creativity and imagination cannot be programmed,” she adds, more optimistic than Jonathan Jourdenais.

His fears are mostly legal. What copyright with artificial intelligence, wonders Kristèle Pelland: “Artificial intelligence companies will say that their software learns. But software does not learn. They tap into the data, in databases of works that already exist, and regurgitate all that to create new ones. And the works that have inspired artificial intelligence are not necessarily free of rights. »

Same concern on the side of Illustration Quebec regarding intellectual property. “We know that on some platforms, we can ask, for example, to draw a pink elephant in the graphic style of Élise Gravel [prolifique illustratrice québécoise]. That is worrying. If artificial intelligence is able to analyze the style of an artist and produce a false image, that raises certain questions, ”underlines the director general of this association, Jean-Philippe Lortie.

Déjà vu

That said, he does not think it is tomorrow the day before that the publishing community in Quebec will replace illustrators with artificial intelligence. In the short term, Jean-Philippe Lortie is more worried about jobs in the video game industry.

At the School of Digital Arts, Animation and Design (NAD), we do not yet know on which foot to dance. On the one hand, there are fears of job losses in the video game and animation sectors, where most graduates work. On the other hand, we see artificial intelligence as an opportunity, since it has the merit of simplifying the work at the design stage, which leaves more time afterwards to embellish what the artificial intelligence.

“That’s what we also said, on the other hand, at the time when digital technology replaced film on film sets. We said that since it cost less, we would have more time to try things out in post-production. But in the end, we just started spinning faster,” recalls Benoît Melançon, professor at the École NAD.

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Artists fear being replaced by AI

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