Gen Z Art Community Outraged Over Popular App That Creates Cool Graphics Out of Your Selfies With A.I. — Shocked To Learn Things Get Ripped Off On the Internet

There's a major controversy a-brewin' on Twitter, and I'm not talking about the one where the Blue Checkmarks are stomping their feet and throwing their toys because they're losing their monopoly on bullying people they don't like. I'm talking of course about the hashtag "#AIArt" uproar, trending from artists who are absolutely shocked and dismayed to find that their work is being ripped off on the internet. By robots!  In a nutshell, these (overwhelmingly Gen Z) artists and their friends realized that certain apps were using open source software called "Stable Diffusion," which implements AI to generate avatars and renditions based on samples of the already-existing work of non-robotic creators. So like when you upload some selfies and it spits out some artsy anime-looking images. You get it. 

Which actually raises a lot of interesting questions, if you care about that sort of thing — art, or whatever. Like for example one that philosophers have been pondering since Socrates — what is art? If you take the artist out of the art, is it still art? Is the algorithm the artist? If AI can recreate your work in seconds so identical that even you can't tell the difference, are you any good at art? Like I said, interesting if you care about that sort of thing, which I don't, so on we move. 

What I DO find interesting is the eruption of outrage, the sheer volume of the replies to these tweet threads, all of them acting as if they were completely caught off guard that this sort of thing could happen. I was under the impression that it was basically a widely understood truism at this point that this is the primary purpose of the internet. Anything that has ever been created in any medium ever has been ripped off, copied, stolen since the day Al Gore invented it. It's a fact of life that anyone who has ever created absolutely anything on the internet has had to deal with since day one. If something costs money, you go to the internet to get it for not money. 

I thought, of all people, the younger generations knew this the most? I thought they practically celebrated this kind of stuff. Getting everything for free, everything belongs to everyone, because fuck capitalism or whatever. This is a misconception apparently, and I fell right into its trap.  None of the people on these Twitter threads has ever downloaded a song from a Zippyshare link on the internet before — $1.99 from iTunes only. They've never checked Primewire for a movie (that's why the movie theater business is booming), or searched Reddit for a torrent of a live game or show from a network they don't want to pay for. Fuck, they've never even shared a Netflix password. Never bypassed a paywall for an article before. Never bought any fast-fashion and had 4 packages from Shein on their doorstep full of $5 Chinese designed knockoffs. That NFT craze? Never even happened actually. THAT IS THEFT.

A few months ago an A.I. generated piece won the blue ribbon at the Colorado State Fair's annual art competition — despite everything your brain told you while you were reading that sentence, this was a big enough deal for the New York Times to write it up.

These apps have made many human artists understandably nervous about their own futures — why would anyone pay for art, they wonder, when they could generate it themselves? They have also generated fierce debates about the ethics of A.I.-generated art, and opposition from people who claim that these apps are essentially a high-tech form of plagiarism.

I'm not saying this A.I. Art shit is right, because it's not. None of those other things I mentioned are "right" either. Doesn't mean I haven't done most of them, or ever given one single shit that Gen Z does all of them, daily.  I just haven't seen a lot of "fierce debates about ethics" like the NYT is describing all of a sudden.  If anything it's treated like the OTHER people are the bad guys. The ones charging money.  If it's something you want but don't feel like paying for there's always a justification that it's someone else's fault, that they basically made you do it, they make enough money!  The internet has thrived off this shit forever.  Why all of the crying and moral panic now, about this? 

I don't know the answer to that of course. But I have a guess. 


"I don't just see art, I see people, mentors, and friends." Now that it's ME and MY friends that it's happening to with something I like, it is officially an outrage. Unfair! Unethical! 

Gen Z is the most hypocritical generation to ever exist and that's coming from someone who's lived his whole life around Boomers. And, newsflash: unless they're the ones selling it, it's not the old people who want AI and fucking robots running everything.