AI-generated art is set to cause a major shake-up in digital marketing, with businesses able to use AI-generated images free of charge, which will eventually change the game for stock image providers, artists and more.
And Microsoft’s not waiting around for the revolution to happen. Today, Microsoft has shared a preview of its coming Microsoft Designer platform, which will provide a simple way to create content for your promotions based solely on text prompts.
What’s more, as you can see in this preview, the app will also incorporate DALL-E, the AI-based image generator that can take your basic text descriptions and turn them into art, within seconds, for use in your projects.
As per Microsoft:
“With Designer, there’s no need to spend time building cards or social media posts from scratch, and you no longer need to search through thousands of pre-made templates. Designer invites you to start with an idea and let the AI do the heavy lifting. For example, with ‘start from scratch’ within Designer, you can simply describe an image you want to see, and the app does the work for you to create something totally unique.”
Which seems good, and helpful in many respects. But also feels wrong?
As we outlined recently, at present, copyright laws don’t cover AI-generated art, because technically, the images being created through these apps have never existed before a user has generated them. These apps do source visuals from across the web, and many of those would likely be from commercial artists and platforms. But because it’s only sampling each image, then re-forming those elements into something new, that’s not a violation of copyright – though there are some questions around images of real people and/or public figures.
But in general, these visuals are fine for commercial use. Some people are even selling their original AI creations for profit, even though many do look a lot like other artworks that you would have to pay for online.
They can also look a little weird, a little distorted – but run enough text prompts through the system are you're bound to eventually come upon an image that suits your needs.
Given this, it makes sense for Microsoft to jump on board the AI art shift, and you can expect other tech players to follow suit. But it does feel like a conflict, in potentially screwing over artists who are going to lose income as a result.
Take, for example, the use of named prompts in AI art generation, like this from Byteside, which is an image of ‘money tree in the style of Monet’ (created in Midjourney).
That looks pretty good, right? And it does have a distinct Monet feel to it. And Monet, of course, is not around to be annoyed by this - but what about when such prompts are used to create art in the style of actual living artists, who are going to lose out as a result?
Fantasy artist Greg Rutkowski, for example, says that his art is often being sourced by these AI tools to create similar style works.
As you can see in this example, the details are not quite right, but by using a prompt like ‘wizard with sword and a glowing orb of magic fire fights a fierce dragon Greg Rutkowski’ in one of these AI generators, you can come up with similar looking visuals, based directly on Rutkowski’s style.
Should that be allowed? I mean, it’s not against the law, as again, this image never existed till somebody typed in that prompt, and it’s not a direct copy of an original work. But it is derivative – and for a human artist creating derivative work, that’s still unique, if questionable in practice. But an AI system is directly copying elements of Rutkowski’s style to re-create them in a new form.
That doesn’t seem right, but as noted, the current copyright laws weren’t written with AI generators in mind, and the actual legal case for or against such is not clear, one way or another, at least not yet.
So you can use them. The morals and ethics of such are down to your personal perspective, but given that they are available, and can produce good stuff, you can expect to see more tools like this cropping up in future.
At present, Microsoft’s Designer platform is only in limited beta, but it will eventually be made available to paying Microsoft 365 subscribers.
If you want to sign-up to a preview of the app, you can do so here.