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AI & Artists

a close up image of an artwork, which slows and old masters' still life manipulated by digital distortion.
New Order Fruit Piece (after Jan van Huysum, c. 1722) (Detail), 2022 Giclée on canvas, 120 x 90 cm © Gordon Cheung

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a topic that has dominated news headlines over the past few years. It has entered the public consciousness as a tool that could make giant leaps forward in science and health, while also imitating human traits like decision making and creative output. AI generated artworks have been sold at auction, won photography prizes and appeared on the front cover of magazines, all whilst stirring debate.

Artificial Intelligence and Artists’ Work: A Survey of Artists on AI

At the end of 2023, DACS launched a survey to understand directly from artists and artists’ representatives how AI impacts them, what positive outcomes or opportunities may be presented by AI, and what barriers exist to using the technology in their practice. 1000 people responded to the survey, and 352 provided comments, drawing on their own experiences.

The survey results indicate that there is significant concern amongst artists that unregulated AI would negatively impact their careers, future opportunities and copyright, and that the rapid development of the technology has created a skills shortage. The results show that a third of artists are using AI as a tool in their practice, or to assist with tasks related to their work – showing that AI will have a significant impact on what it means to be an artist in today’s world.

Further, there is strong support for a licensing based solution to the challenges posed by AI.

Text & Data Mining

To assist in responding to the UK Government consultation on AI and intellectual property, in December 2021 DACS convened visual artists to share their experiences and thoughts on AI and their practice. In the main, artists considered that licensing their work is vital as it provides not only autonomy over the use of the work and remuneration, but it also builds trust.

In February 2023, the UK Government scrapped controversial plans granting artificial intelligence (AI) platforms an all-encompassing exception to copyright, asking instead to work with creative industry leaders to strike a balance between promoting innovation within AI and supporting creativity in the UK.

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