Artificial Intelligence: a tool or a threat to art and writing?
Teachers are uncertain of the future of AI
January 26, 2023
Technological advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) used to seem exciting, promising a bright future, but with the most recent upgrades, it’s doing nothing but making the world of art and writing uncertain. AI has been growing and developing for years, but now, it’s gained the ability to create intricate artwork and perfectly written essays in a matter of seconds.
Image generators can create artwork and pictures (often for free), but many have been found to steal artwork and art styles from existing artists without their permission and credit. All over social media, artists are beginning to notice their art styles are being copied, such as artist Deb JJ Lee on Instagram, and have started a ‘Say No to AI Art’ movement in retaliation and to spread awareness.
One incident that angered the artist community was when an AI-generated image won first place in a contest for Digital Arts/Digitally Manipulated Photography. This incident catapults artists’ fears that AI is replacing human creativity.
Art teacher Donna Dobly strongly believes AI is a threat to creativity and says, “I think that there is a wonderful place for digital tools in art—I am a full supporter of using technology, using computers, using Photoshop—all sorts of digital technology to create art. What I don’t support is stealing artists’ ideas and styles, typing [them] into an algorithm, and then letting AI essentially create this seemingly beautiful artwork that guess what? Would not exist if it wasn’t for real live humans creating that work and those humans are now getting no money, no credit, and everyone is going to this program for art instead of supporting real human beings.”
Meanwhile, fellow art teacher Laura Kipilman says “I have to wonder if it will harm creativity or the development of imagination in general, which is a big part of what makes us human.” AI can both be a tool and a threat to creativity but Kipilman says the future of AI is uncertain, as it could be used as a reference for artists.
Peter Scanlan, an illustrator and art teacher at Demarest, compared AI to Photoshop when it was first released. He says “these images [were] generally not nearly as good as the custom created illustrations had been, but since the price was so much lower, the publications didn’t seem to mind. This led to a vast reduction in illustration jobs, and an overall precipitous decline in the quality of artwork appearing in many publications.”
Scanlan adds, “I fear, (and assume) that adoption of AI programs that sample existing artwork created by humans and then [recompose] it together to create something “new” will have a similar effect, especially since the work created by the computer program is absolutely free!”
Although AI appears to be causing the art world to spiral into confusion and debate, art teachers aren’t the only ones concerned with the future of AI. The creative and academic writing world is threatened by AI platforms that can quickly create pieces of writing.
According to English teacher Brook Zelcer, creativity should come from people’s imagination and experiences, not from AI. Zelcer says, “I shudder to think of what the future will bring, and the ways in which that technology will further separate us from ourselves, nature and other people.”
I shudder to think of what the future will bring, and the ways in which that technology will further separate us from ourselves, nature and other people.”
— Brook Zelcer
Meanwhile, English teacher Jennifer Dee said AI is “an incredibly powerful and scary tool” that could easily be used to cheat on academic research assignments for advanced classes such as AP Seminar. Dee says that when the 1-to-1 initiative first began, many worried “that kids would just cheat” but this was solved with the help of submitting websites like Turnitin.com.
Programs that track the use of AI, similar to Turnitin.com, have begun to be developed. Recently, a college student created GPTZero, which detects the use of ChatGPT in a piece of writing.
Although the program is new and flawed, it is a step closer to combating the use of AI to cheat. Programs like this could be improved and utilized by teachers if the popularity of using AI to write grows among students.
On the other hand, learning to coexist with AI can be easier than trying to expel it. English teacher Jeffrey Kraples had an idea to make a workshop informing teachers of how AI can be used to teach writing more efficiently rather than fearing it.
He says, “So as a kind of joke, but also to check it out, I wrote in the ChatGPT chatbox, “Write a workshop that teaches teachers how to use the AI software as a partner in writing instruction and come up with ways that teachers can embed it in their lessons and instructions.” And it came back with a full proposal for me with an objective, with procedures, with what teachers will come away with—pretty much exactly the way that a workshop proposal would look like in a course catalog, and I’m going to see if I can actually use that as my proposal.”
Despite some opposition to it, AI is here to stay. Although the future of education and the art world is uncertain, it seems modern educators will have to learn to coexist with these new platforms.