Firefly: An ethical approach to AI-art

Another day, another AI software on the market. But this one is a little different; the new AI software called Adobe Firefly, made by the folks who created Adobe Photoshop, is changing the game in the field of artificial intelligence.

Read on as I give you my thoughts on the ever-changing landscape of AI.

“Did you draw this?”

As you may know, AI art generators like Midjourney scan the internet for images and artwork without caring much about copyrights. Artists have their work taken, morphed and often sold – usually without knowing or ever seeing a single penny.

Selling platforms like Etsy and Redbubble are seeing a huge surge in AI-related products. People are listing hundreds of products a day, listing themselves as the creator and artist of these pieces, all while generating away on Midjourney.

Even art-platform giant Deviantart joined in on the AI-craze, releasing DreamUp in 2022. Members would have to actively opt out of having their art used. By default, their work would be considered fair game for DreamUp. And the opt-out forms had a 10-day review period, causing a lot of artists to have left the platform. While now changed, it left a sour taste in the mouths of many artists, as the meaning of ‘art’ is quickly changing, even on platforms that many considered their ‘safe haven’ for sharing their personal works.

(Luckily, I deleted my account from 2010 out of embarrassment a long time ago…)

So, how’s Firefly any different?

Unlike other AI models that rely on massive amounts of data and computing power, Firefly does things differently. It goes straight to the source by using images directly from Adobe’s own stock library.

This is a big deal because it means Firefly doesn’t go around scouring the internet or using images without permission or respect for copyrights. It taps into Adobe’s specially curated stock library, which is like a treasure trove of legit, approved images. By doing this, Firefly ensures that the images it uses are properly licensed and meets ethical standards.

Adobe has teamed up with the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) to develop Firefly. The aim is to make sure that the AI and its uses are ethically grounded. They’ve also partnered with Google’s AI called Bard, which will help verify the origins of the images used in Firefly. In theory, Bard and Firefly will be able to tell if an image was created by a human, AI-generated, or AI-edited.

The Content Authenticity Initiative is a group of people working together to fight against misinformation, misuse, theft, and to ensure the authenticity of digital content. They’re also leading the conversation about giving credit to digital content creators.

It’s not perfect

Due to the limited material of Adobe Stock, the results are not as refined as you’d get on Midjourney. However, as new stock is added daily, this is bound to get much better.

Same as Deviantart, artists and photographers can simply slap a “Do Not Train” tag on anything you upload to Adobe Stock. You have to actively choose to opt out, which some people might find problematic. But unlike most AI’s, the option is there, which is a step in the right direction.

Conflicted Feelings

As someone who occasionally shares their art online and has artist friends who rely on their creations for a living, the AI craze is both exciting and worrisome. It’s incredible to witness the advancements in technology, but there’s always that nagging concern about whether pieces of our art are floating out there, being sold by someone else claiming to be the original creator.

It’s a complex issue. While AI can produce fascinating results, it’s crucial to respect the rights and creativity of artists. Initiatives like CAI and ethical practices such as opting out of training data are steps in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go to ensure fair treatment and proper attribution for artists in the age of AI.

Do you have any thoughts on AI-created art? If so feel free to head over to any of our social channels and get involved in the conversation!

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