top of page

Director’s View

By Johan de Villiers

Welcome to our final edition of our quarterly E-zine for 2022!

Looking back over the last year, the conversation with clients were dominated by most of the 4th Industrial Revolution themes, be it disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) that are changing the way modern people live and work. One of the most interesting themes that came across my desk was the introduction of Artificial Intelligence in the world of Art.

During the end of August, Jason Allen, a video game designer in Pueblo, Colorado entered the , Colorado State Fair’s digital arts competition. As luck would have it, judges awarded him first place, which came with a $300 prize.

However, his win soon went viral after Allen admitted that his prize-winning art, Théâtre D’opéra Spatial was created by an artificial intelligence program, called Midjourney. Midjourney is software than can intelligently turn text descriptions into images. By his own admission he spent over 80 hours feeding the AI different images to create the artwork. The fair’s submission guidelines do not explicitly mention AI-generated art, but they define digital arts as “artistic practice that uses digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process.”

Allen created the artwork by entering various words into Midjourney, which then produced more than nine hundred renderings for him to choose from, of which he selected three before adjusting it with Photoshop. The final work had its resolution boosted by a software tool called Gigapixel before Allen printed it on canvas.

Ironically, regardless of the fire storm that was unleased on the internet, the competitions judges said afterwards that if had they known that it was AI generated, they still would have awarded first place!

Most other comments were more in line with the quote below:

“We’re watching the death of artistry unfold right before our eyes — if creative jobs aren’t safe from machines, then even high-skilled jobs are in danger of becoming obsolete

What will we have then?”

— OmniMorpho (@OmniMorpho) August 31, 2022

Most of the criticism of the work is based on fear, Allen says, as artists are concerned that technology will one day become so sophisticated that they will be out of jobs.

“To developers and technically minded people, [AI is] this cool thing, but to illustrators, it’s very upsetting because it feels like you’ve eliminated the need to hire the illustrator,” cartoonist Matt Bors, founder of the Nib, tells the Atlantic’s Charlie Warzel. “The bottom came out of illustration a while ago,” Bors adds, “but AI art does seem like a thing that will devalue art in the long run.”

The New York Times reported earlier in the year that AI may also have other unintended consequences, especially when these technologies have the potential to spread disinformation and create deep fakes, an umbrella term for deceptive photos and videos that are digitally altered.

With the above in mind, it was interesting to note that in September of this year, Getty Images decided to outright ban AI generated artwork.

Getty Images is a large repository of stock and archival photographs and illustrations, often used by publications in lieu of paying a license fee.

The CEO of Getty Images, Craig Peters said: "There are real concerns with respect to the copyright of outputs from these models and unaddressed rights issues with respect to the imagery, the image metadata and those individuals contained within the imagery,"

A notice from Getty Images and iStock about a ban on "AI generated content."

At this point in time, no court has ruled on the ability to copyright AI-generated artwork, nor the ethics of using artists' work without consent to train neural networks that can create almost human-level artwork.

In order to avoid any potential legal headache as well as protect their brand, Getty simply decided to avoid the issue altogether with its ban.

There is a well cited article in the Smithsonian, titled "US Copyright Office Rules AI Art Can't Be Copyrighted,” where a researcher attempted to register an AI algorithm as the non-human owner of a copyright, which the Copyright Office denied. Apparently to be the copyright owner you either need to be human, or a group of humans such as a corporation.

Our courts have previously ruled that photos can be copyrighted because they are "representatives of original intellectual conceptions of [an] author."

Based on the above ruling, current AI art and text-to-image generators, are claiming that their image synthesis outputs are "representatives of original intellectual conceptions of [an] author" as well. The argument goes that creative input and guidance of a human are still necessary to create AI images, especially since the software tool and executing their off is a creative act by a human.

AI Generated image collage with strike thru.

In the United States, copyright law states that whoever presses the shutter button on a camera, hold the copyright of the image. Based on that, the human creative input for AI images is even more extensive and thus should be granted copyright for the work generated.

A remarkably interesting subject to think about going forward, especially with the number of deep fakes and auto generated news that are being produced by computers in the media.

You literally can not trust what you see or read anymore!

With that, thank you for your continued support of First Technology, Western Cape.

Warm Regards

Johan de Villiers


First Technology Western Cape

65 views0 comments


bottom of page