What a week. So much is going on that it is difficult to curb my squirrel-hunting ADHD and get anything of real consequence done. Having said that, I am learning by leaps and bounds so that is a bonus. This article is not as much fun as I usually like so bear with me. One of the cool things that was talked about widely in AI and art circles is a big challenge we as artists have faced and continue to fight: the rise of AI platforms using our artwork. I am typically a contrarian and NOT a sheople. This has been written about extensively this week, so I was hesitant to add to the fray.
But...it so hit my passion for the underdog fighting back and striking blows that hurt that I had to write about it. Most of you're probably aware of how big AI companies can just swoop in and use your work without asking permission of even telling us they did it. We have talked about it many times before. As an artist who has embraced A.I. and many times do include it into my workflow, I do have a challenge with how systems were initially trained and updated. I am not sure that large AI companies have made sweeping changes but after tons of big lawsuits, it is at least in the open that it is not ok, that artists will fight back. A big aid in that fight is coming, it is called Nightshade. This amazing tool, created by some smart folks led by Professor Ben Zhao at the University of Chicago, is an artist's best bet against these AI giants. Nightshade ingeniously alters art pieces in ways invisible to us, but severely disruptive to AI models. Let's dive deeper into how Nightshade is reshaping the battleground for artistic rights in an AI-dominated world.
Dalle 3 and Photoshop
Championing Artists in the AI Era: With major players such as OpenAI, Meta, Google, and Stability AI being called out by artists for unauthorized scraping of their content, Nightshade is leveling the playing field. Its genius lies in embedding almost imperceptible tweaks to digital art. To the human gaze, the art remains unaltered. However, when AI algorithms attempt to process such artworks, they're baffled. It delicately tweaks digital art in a way that, while unnoticeable to our eyes, sends AI algorithms into a spiral of confusion. Imagine an AI confidently mistaking a beautifully rendered dog for a cat – that's Nightshade at work. For me, it helps to reconcile one of the bigger challenges of using MidJourney, Dalle3, Firefly, and other generative AI programs.
Parallel to Nightshade, the introduction of Glaze signals a beacon of hope for artists striving to retain the unique essence of their creations. In an age where artistic styles can be algorithmically analyzed and replicated, Glaze serves as a protective layer, ensuring that every nuance, and every emotion conveyed remains untainted and distinct. This isn't just about protection; it's about ensuring every brushstroke; every hue remains unmistakably original so your unique voice can’t be ripped off. Uber cool is that the developers have decided to weave Nightshade into Glaze. Even better, Nightshade will embrace the open-source ethos which will amplify its potential. This democratizes access, invites collaboration, and fosters broader access and collective enhancement. The more the artistic community rallies around it, the more robust the defense against AI oversteps. With an artistic call to arms Nightshade, combined with Glaze, hopefully will become the guerilla weapon that allows me, you, and other artists to join the fight.
AI models are akin to voracious learners, consuming vast quantities of online image data to refine their capabilities. Nightshade ingeniously subverts this by adding slight alterations to artworks. As these 'seasoned' artworks integrate into AI training pools, the algorithms encounter unexpected anomalies. This results in delightfully skewed interpretations, showcasing the fragility and imperfection of AI in the face of human ingenuity. I love this. One of the advantages that machine learning has over me is that it remembers everything. From the beginning, I thought, if I can’t remember all that I read and watch I can at least tap into something that can. Upon discovery of how AI models were trained, it brought some serious moral challenges about use, and this again, has made some of that easier.
Beyond immediate distortions, a Nightshade-altered artwork can cast ripples across AI's learning trajectory. A slight nudge in one artwork might disrupt an entire series of related AI-generated interpretations. While potent, it's essential to remember that Nightshade's efficacy has its limits. Subverting established, vast AI models would necessitate a consistent stream of 'altered' inputs.
The advent of Nightshade doesn't just serve us artists; it sends a clarion call to the tech community. It underscores the importance of ensuring the security and reliability of AI models. As AI threads itself more deeply into our societal fabric, ensuring its resilience and integrity becomes paramount. In the broader art community, Nightshade and Glaze are more than mere tools—they're emblematic of resistance and empowerment in a tech-saturated era. Noted artists like Eva Toorenent and Autumn Beverly have heralded their emergence, accentuating the newfound confidence they instill in the artistic fraternity.
Nightshade and Glaze aren't just innovations; they're symbols of the perennial dance between art and technology. They epitomize the balance we seek in an ever-evolving digital milieu. As we move through this intricate landscape, the harmonious synthesis of these tools assures artists of our rightful agency and voice. We have been here before...on more than one occasion.
Currently, Nightshade is in a closed beta and is only available to a select group of artists. However, the Nightshade team is planning to release Nightshade to the public in the near future.
In the meantime, we can use methods we typically use to protect our work from data scraping, such as:
- Watermarking our images. A watermark is a small, visible mark that is added to an image. Watermarks can help deter bots from scraping images and can also help artists track down their images if they are used without permission. Interestingly, many new AI tools even within our photo-editing software make this almost useless...at least on a small scale individual basis.
- Use copyright management services. A copyright management service can help artists to register their copyright and to track down and remove their images from websites where they are being used without permission.
- Limit where you upload your images. Artists should only upload their images to websites that they trust and that have a good reputation.
By following these tips, artists can help to protect themselves from data scraping and ensure that their work is used with their permission.
See a bunch of links for copyright help in PDF here.
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No Cost book club. What is a book club anyway? We get together on zoom and go through a book. So, embark on a journey of self-discovery and creative expansion in our bi-weekly book club. Every other Thursday, we delve into inspiring books aimed at nurturing personal growth and fueling our creative spirits. Through lively discussions, insightful exercises, and the shared wisdom of like-minded individuals, we strive to transcend the ordinary and embrace a life of continuous learning and creative exploration. Whether you're an artist seeking your muse or someone on the path of personal development, this book club offers a nurturing space to reflect, discuss, and grow. Join us by registering here and transform every other Thursday into a stepping stone towards a more enlightened and creative self! First book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Next zoom meeting is Thursday, October 26th at 7pm, CST. See you there! Buy your book if you dont already have it.
Digital Art Goes Rogue Magazine Cover contest. Digital Art Goes Rogue Magazine Cover contest. Check out the back cover contest for Digital Art Goes Rogue Magazine. We want to see your art. Follow the link for all the deets. https://digitalartgoesrogue.com/cover-art-contest/
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