Jan 24, 2023

The Lensa App Isn’t Stealing Artist’s Work, But It Could Have Serious Repercussions

If you’re even tangentially connected to the art world, you’ve been hearing a lot about AI art, AI creating art, AI ripping off artists, and the like.

And while the Lensa app isn’t technically stealing anything, the art it’s creating will likely shake up the art world for years to come.

AI technology has started to shake up visual culture across the board, and of those taking the online world by storm, Lensa just might be the slickest app we’ve seen.

It’s started to run into trouble, though, as more and more artists – like Kim Leutwyler – are claiming they recognize their own style in the portraits it produces.

Even if these artists are feeling as if the heart and soul of their work has been stolen, copyright law technically disagrees.

Lensa is a streamlined and customized front-end for a Stable Diffusion deep learning model, which uses a system called latent diffusion to power its creative output.

“Latent” meaning it’s a quality or variable that can’t be measured directly, which is important when considering copyright law.

When it was being built, the machine-learning algorithms were fed a large number of image-text pairs, teaching themselves billions of ways to connect images and captions.

The result was a complex knowledge based that, to the computer, is nothing but numbers and connections. To access it, we feed it a series of prompts.

We might type something like “digital art” and “artstation,” the latter of which is home to many contemporary artists, and Stable Diffusion might return something that incorporates styles that are similar to those who are displaying there.

Lensa stands out because it’s managed to streamline the process of textual inversion by taking user-supplied photos and putting them into Stable Diffusion’s existing database.

Basically, Lensa is borrowing ideas from other artists’ work, but isn’t using any of their actual work – and the style and ideas behind people’s work are not able to be copyrighted.

Which doesn’t stop artists from being upset, a fact that could lead to new and more targeted legislation that tries to keep up with the technology.

That said, while the AI generated art might be easy and cheap, most believe it will not replace the personality, experiences, style, and context that a human artist brings to their work.

As an artist, I would like to see AI be put to work doing menial tasks that would free artists up to create more, but maybe that’s a pipe dream.

I mean, we don’t want to make it angry, right?

twistedsifter on facebook The Lensa App Isnt Stealing Artists Work, But It Could Have Serious Repercussions