Computer-generated art seemed magical at first, but it works by ‘scraping’ the creations of real people. Now they’re angry, and have the tools to fight back
Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first give access to Midjourney, a text-to-graphics “generative AI” that is all the rage. It’s engagingly simple to use: type in a text prompt describing a kind of image you’d like it to generate, and up comes a set of images that you couldn’t ever have produced yourself. For example: “An image of cat looking at it and ‘on top of the world’, in the style of cyberpunk futurism, bright red background, light cyan, edgy street art, bold, colourful portraits, use of screen tones, dark proportions, modular” and it will happily oblige with endless facility.
Welcome to a good way to waste most of a working day. Many people think it’s magical, which in a sense it is, at least as the magician Robert Neale portrayed it: a unique art form in which the magician creates elaborate mysteries during a performance, leaving the spectator baffled about how it was done. But if the spectator somehow manages to discover how the trick was done, then the magic disappears.