Unstable Dalliances

Since my initial burst of activity with DALL-E 2 I’ve tried a few more queries on it, most of which didn’t produce much of interest, but there were a few exceptions. Things got more interesting when I was able to compare it with Stable Diffusion, which has been opening up to beta testers and let me (and thousands of others) on a few days ago. Unlike DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion is aiming to be completely open, with no holds barred, which means it’s inevitably going to be used to churn out AI-generated porn and to rip off living artists. Not the greatest advertisement for the power and promise of artificial intelligence. But judging from some of its results, I wouldn’t panic just yet (click through for a gallery)…

Stable Diffusion rendition of grizzly bears sitting at a desk

Despite the wobbly results in many of those images, there’s enough there to worry anyone who produces art for a living (or once dreamed of doing so). Some of Stable Diffusion’s results are spectacular, as are DALL-E 2’s. In the short term, they could deal a terrible blow for commercial artists and illustrators, just as Photoshop once did for cartoonists; Photoshop put an end to single-panel cartoons and hand-drawn illustrations in the magazine I drew for in the early 1990s, once its editor decided that its graphic designers could make surreal collages from stock photos instead. But in the longer term, they could open up new possibilities for human creativity, just as Photoshop and its offshoots have. Just as cameras did, come to that.

14 August 2022 · Art