Training Generative Models

I would consider myself an AI art enthusiast and optimist. Despite being starkly anti-Luddite, I do recognize the arguments about how the models are trained seem to have the most substance. (Let’s cut out all the whining about how these new tools will bring about a sea change and “won’t someone think of the poor starving artists”. This Ludditism is indistinguishable from past laments about innovations that are now boring commodities, such as the novel, the teddy bear, the bicycle, and on and on. Perhaps I am wrong and AI will be different?—won’t someone think about the poor grandmaster chess player with nothing better to do than sue for peace, now that the machines consistently beat them handily. Or perhaps scrappy humans will adapt and commercial and fine art and photography will flourish.)

Here are some links about generative models and the ethics and legality of training data. I will add more as I come across them.

I’m not sure if the result of Copilot will be the erosion of open source contributions or not, but the copyright aspects obviously have merits. A lot is unknown at this point.

  • Shutterstock announced an alliance with Open AI (also Microsoft essentially) to sell and license their contributors’ tagged and organized photos to train DALL-E 2. What they don’t say in the press release is what it says in the email they sent to their contributors, that Shutterstock will not accept any AI-generated contributions:

Working together to lead the way with AI

We’re excited to announce that we are partnering with OpenAI to bring the tools and experiences to the Shutterstock marketplace that will enable our customers to instantly generate and download images based on the keywords they enter.

As we step into this emerging space, we are going to do it in the best way we know how—with an approach that both compensates our contributor community and protects our customers.

In this spirit, we will not accept content generated by AI to be directly uploaded and sold by contributors in our marketplace because its authorship cannot be attributed to an individual person consistent with the original copyright ownership required to license rights. Please see our latest guidelines here. When the work of many contributed to the creation of a single piece of AI-generated content, we want to ensure that the many are protected and compensated, not just the individual that generated the content.

In the spirit of compensating our contributor community, we are excited to announce an additional form of earnings for our contributors. Given the collective nature of generative content, we developed a revenue share compensation model where contributors whose content was involved in training the model will receive a share of the earnings from datasets and downloads of ALL AI-generated content produced on our platform.

We see generative as an exciting new opportunity—an opportunity that we’re committed to sharing with our contributor community. For more information, please see our FAQ on the subject, which will be updated regularly.

So even Shutterstock is playing both sides of this issue—feeding the beast (models) but saying no to the quagmire of feeding legally questionable images back into the system. A complex and nuanced stance?!

Interesting dilemma. Working hypothesis: all illustrators will be expected to work in all styles, since a single style is always too easy to copy. Also, graphic designers have done this for like a century: adapt their style to the needs of each project, client, or product. Perhaps illustrators will be required to up their game?