Artificial intelligence: artists fear being replaced

While new, state-of-the-art artificial intelligence software has been delighting internet users for the past few days, it’s less fun for artists. Many in the worlds of video games, cartoons and illustration fear that they will be replaced by this promising technology within a few years.

At the age of 41, Jonathan Jourdenais feels that he is finally establishing himself in the world of animation in Montreal. It is the result of many years of perfecting, fighting from contract to contract. It shows his frustration when he sees that a neophyte can become an artist in a matter of hours thanks to AI software like Midjourney and DALL-E.

“It was like I couldn’t run, and suddenly I had bionic legs that would allow me to run marathons faster than people who train their whole lives. I wouldn’t deserve it,” describes Jonathan Jourdenais. Those who dabble in digital art today think that technology has gone too far, that it has reached a point of no return.

Admittedly, artificial intelligence, especially in the hands of ordinary people, is not yet as accurate as the work of a real professional artist. But it won’t last long, he fears. “I first heard about Midjourney this summer,” recalls Jonathan Jourdenais. We typed a few words and the program made a drawing for us. We found it funny, it was very naive. It’s only been a few months and it’s become very real. Not everyone sees the difference between Mr. and Mrs. Even I get caught. I recently found out that an Instagram account I follow was created by artificial intelligence. »

Also a matter of law

Kristèle Pelland, a 2D artist in the video game industry, is also amazed by the lightning speed at which artificial intelligence is improving. Worryingly, he calls for collective thinking, even if he knows that “once the toothpaste is out, you can’t put it back in the tube.”

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

His fears are mostly legitimate. Yes Kristèle Pelland is interested in AI copyright: “AI companies will say that software learns. But software doesn’t learn. Tap into them data, in databases of already existing jobs and repeat all this to create new ones. And works that inspire artificial intelligence are not necessarily copyright-free. »

Illustrating the same concern on the Quebec side regarding intellectual property. “We know that on some platforms, for example, we can ask to draw a pink elephant in Elise Gravel’s graphic style. [prolifique illustratrice québécoise]. This is worrying. If artificial intelligence is able to analyze the style of an artist and create a fake image, it raises certain questions,” emphasizes Jean-Philippe Lortie, CEO of this association.

Déjà vu

However, he doesn’t think it’s tomorrow when the publishing community in Quebec will replace illustrators with artificial intelligence. In the short term, Jean-Philippe Lortie is more concerned about jobs in the video game industry.

At the School of Digital Art, Animation and Design (NAD), we don’t know which foot to dance on yet. On the one hand, there is the fear of job losses in the video game and animation sectors, where most graduates work. On the other hand, we see AI as an opportunity because it has the merits of simplifying work in the design phase, which leaves more time to flesh out what AI is.

“On the other hand, we said this when digital technology replaced film in cinematography. We said that because it costs less, we’ll have more time to try things out in post-production. But in the end we started spinning faster,” recalls Benoît Melançon, professor at École NAD.

To see in the video

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