“Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last…” 

~ Stephen Hawking

Vietnamese Woman, Anonymous

Artificial Intelligence is set to revolutionize so many industries! Like the automobile, transistors, semiconductors, and the internet, AI has become the next paradigm shift. How we conduct business, advance medical research, or even find the best flight deals has become AI-dependent. We can even use AI to make AI better!

But we’ve all seen the movies. AI has been at the forefront of our minds since 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), War Games (1983), Terminator (1984), Short Circuit (1986), The Matrix (1999), and AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001). We were thoroughly entertained by Wall-E (2008), but I didn’t like Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) that much, but it was still a “must-see.” And let us remember the most popular AI character of all, Lt. Commander Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Data analysis, facial recognition, pattern recognition, forensics… all GREAT uses for Artificial Intelligence. Off the top of my head, I use AI on the daily for writing and translation. I could add location tracking, navigation, and hotel and airline bookings. Amazon, Netflix, Disney + all use AI to recommend content to me. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (X or whatever) customize ads to target me. I’m used to that. But I DON’T need AI to become an artist FOR me! Help? Used as a tool? Sure. But I will come back to that in a minute.

In the previous two posts, I covered the first two detriments, Social Media and Ethics, in detailed brevity… if there is such a thing. There is so much to go into covering all aspects of each concern that it is impossible to do here. So, I’m attempting to give details highlighting the significant or apparent parts. And now we come to AI… Artificial Intelligence. Since this is a post about photography, let me start there.

Everyone knew Adobe Photoshop would be a game-changer. I have no problem with creating composite images. I used to take pictures of exciting skies to use in other compositions. When you go on a shoot, you can’t control everything in nature, especially what the clouds will be doing. I could select a matching sky background in my “Clouds and Sky” folder and use it in my recent photo shoot. You don’t have to do that now. With Generative Fill, you can select an area and type “sky with clouds,” and it seamlessly pops in. In fact, you can do that with anything! Want a dog chewing a bone? Just select an area and type it in. Don’t like the dog it generates? Be more specific! [Green Great Dane with six legs and ears like an elephant, pulling a knife on the mailman.] BOOM! There you have it.

Vietnamese Woman, Anonymous

This took off with Social Media filters, mainly on Instagram. There has been an over-dependence on post-work edits for a long time instead of getting it right in camera. “I’ll fix it in post!” became my most hated phrase. With so many AI developments, you can create the shot you want without a camera. Can you purchase AI-generated stock images? Shutterstock says no, although they use AI to help you find the content you want. They said: “However, we will not accept AI-generated content being directly uploaded to our library because we want to ensure the proper handling of IP rights and artist compensation.” 

iStock also decided to ban AI-generated content. Rounding out the big 3 of stock agencies, Adobe is all in! Or are they? Adobe tried to justify using AI-generated content last year, but recently, they caught hell for it. They initially decided to accept it, provided the creators labeled it AI-generated. But now…

“After it came to light that Adobe Stock is selling AI-generated images of the Israel-Hamas conflict, the photo giant has changed its policy regarding fake images that depict real events. Adobe addressed the issue in a blog post last week, announcing it will prohibit AI images with titles that imply they depict newsworthy events. A Washington Post report found that unlabeled AI images are being sold on Adobe Stock; something that the company says it will take action on. ‘Stock content should always be clearly marked when used in editorial content to help ensure people are not misled into thinking a real event is being depicted by the stock content,’ says Adobe.” Matt Growcoot,  Adobe Stock Changes Policy on AI Images Depciting Real EventsPetapixel, 27 Nov 2023

Selling AI-generated images of the Israeli-Hamas Conflict? I can’t even fathom how short-sighted this notion was. Actually, there WAS no short-sightedness. It was deliberate! Making a policy to allow AI-generated content with the requirement that it be labeled assumes that people won’t remove the label. Adobe is not that naive. They made a qualifier to be used as a hold harmless clause upon purchase to exonerate them of any liability or wrongdoing.

Vietnamese Woman, Anonymous

But what else do we have? Photography Contests! 

Artist Wins Photography Contest After Submitting AI-Generated Image, Then Forfeits Prize

An A.I.-Generated Picture Won an Art Prize. Artists Aren’t Happy

And this has been going on for years! Sometimes, a Photoshop-manipulated image goes against many photo contest rules. But now, as I mentioned, you don’t need a camera, you don’t need to be on location, and you don’t need to have a subject in front of you! We sit at the precipice of the in-house “photographer,” who is waiting for your descriptive request! Cameras use AI tech to autofocus and process data from the sensor. Computational photography can correct optical aberrations. You can use a wide-angle lens but fix it in post to adjust for barreling, pincushion effects, or perspective preferences. All that is short-lived. With AI, you can just eliminate the camera and lens altogether!

But this isn’t just about photography. Writers are cool with using AI as a tool to HELP with writing. NOT as a replacement for writers. And SAG actors are fighting to maintain the rights to their digital likenesses. Sculptors? They are okay for now until someone builds the first robot artist. AI could be working on that right now… building a physical construct to give itself an existence outside of bits and bytes. Conspiracy theory? I don’t know. I’m just saying.

Vietnamese Woman, Anonymous

Is art done by AI still art?

Wow. This has been debated ad nauseum already. I agree with the crowd that says no, and my reasons as a photographer may be hypocritical. Back in the day, they used to say photography couldn’t be considered art for the same reasons I can’t consider AI-generated outputs as art. You can’t use a mechanical device (algorithms or software) to reproduce something for artistic purposes. They said the same thing about cameras. My argument for photography is that I am manipulating light to create a realistic or surreal representation of what I see using tools… a camera, a lens, and other accessories like flash, triggers, tripod, or ND filters.

This is different from what AI does. AI has a database of a trillion images that it amalgamates into a single representation of a user’s request. Because we have built an internet, mainly via social media, full of images of every subject matter known to man, AI can extrapolate those pictures and make a single ideal image on demand, per your specific instructions. Looking for an Asian man wearing a NY Yankees baseball uniform, standing next to a lake with his Vizsla-Dalmatian mix dog, holding a rod and reel with a bearded dwarf shark on the hook, on a snowy day? AI extrapolates a mix of billions of images to combine to create that one requested image. It may be my shot of a Vizsla dog, but it is colored like a Dalmatian. It could be your photo of an Asian fisherman, my friend’s vacation photo from Lake Tahoe, and everything else from images taken off Google.

AI isn’t inspired to create anything. It’s not alive (yet). It has no feelings and does not create intrinsically. When it draws something, it’s not doing it from life experiences but programming from a database. It has no reason or purpose to create beyond being told to do so. It doesn’t learn. It becomes more proficient, but that’s not learning. To learn, you have to be aware of yourself, the material, and its application beyond. AI improves its programming with better programming, input, and data. But at least for now, it’s no better than the questions asked of it. A chef creates a dish and tastes it to see if it needs more salt, based on his or her preferences, the nature of the food, and guesses what others might enjoy. AI can’t do that. It can’t taste. It draws only from a database and makes what it is told.


“It’s not just artworks: analysis of the training database for Stable Diffusion has revealed it also sucked up private medical photography, photos of members of the public (sometimes alongside their full names), and pornography.” Laurie Clarke, When AI can make art – what does it mean for creativity?, Sat 12 Nov 2022


Vietnamese Woman, Anonymous

And what are the legal ramifications facing AI? Are regulations on the horizon?

This is the fundamental matter! At what point can I complain that an AI program used my copyrighted intellectual property without my permission. Well, it’s all up in the air right now. AI companies argue that their work output is Transformative of any copyrighted work and, therefore, subject to Fair Use.

Problems will inevitably arise in greater magnitude, with AI affecting millions of people and the companies behind them. AI is only as good as the humans who create them and the input data. Remember, Facebook implemented AI into its photo recognition software. It labeled black people as gorillas. Twitter unveiled a bot from Microsoft that had to be immediately taken down after it began spewing racist and sexist tweets in under a day. Other examples include Amazon’s AI hiring algorithms that discriminated against women. In 2019, it was found that an algorithm used on 200 MILLION people was fed faulty data points that made it conclude that white people needed more healthcare than anyone else. This impacted funding for hospitals that treat lower-income areas, insurance company payouts, and forced minorities to pay more for the same level of care. And COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions), whose AI algorithm erroneously concluded that black people were twice more likely to become repeat offenders than white people. But did it incorrectly conclude, or does it reflect the biases of the people who programmed it?

Vietnamese Woman, Anonymous

AI is the scariest of all the detriments I see for photography. Creating digital images and videos using no hardware, people, or reality is a realistic concept today. Not in the future. TODAY! It’s all a matter of how far people want to go. Studio executives can decide not to use any writers. Hell, newspapers did it with photographers a decade ago! Anybody with an agenda can create enough rage, fear, and dissent to manipulate minds by the millions, using AI as weapons of mass DISinformation. As for art, I hate it. It’s getting so real you can hardly tell. Specifically, I detest art nude AI. When it looks a bit too perfect, it usually is. AI still struggles with skin texture, hands, and genitalia. Body portions can sometimes be off, but they do an excellent job with hair, eyes, and facial structure. In another year or two, you won’t know the difference.

Social Media, Ethics, and Artificial Intelligence are my top three detriments to photography. I liked AI when I saw it used to show what ancient statues of people might look like in real life. I remember people lost their minds when a forensic study on Jesus Christ and the computer model depicted him as black. I’d rather see AI as a tool for us to do JOBS more efficiently and leave creative work alone. That’s how man first began. We expressed ourselves and our individuality with clothing, accessorizing how we wore it. We made things out of wood and stone. And we drew pictures. That’s ours. And therein lies the base of our humanity. We learned to help one another. And we drew pictures. AI should be like the Jetsons, where AI, robots, and machines handle daily tasks that free up time for humans… to create more art.

Vietnamese Women, Anonymous