Artificial Intelligence

The robots are painting

A lot has been said in the media about AI generated art, but how does it actually work (from a human perspective)?

I have fallen into a rabbit hole: the world of AI generated art.

There are two major platforms for AI art generation:

  1. DALL-E2
  2. Midjourney

Both are free, and both create output that boggles the mind. 



Let's start with DALL-E2, which is built by OpenAI - the same organization that builds ChatGPT, and the login/registration process is identical. Put in your email and phone (you can use your Google/GMail account), and you are off and running.

Once you are logged in, the screen looks very different:


To trigger the AI to create art, you simply give it a prompt.  Like this:

"A photo of Michelangelo's sculpture of David wearing headphones djing"




"A photo of a teddy bear on a skateboard in Times Square"



The output of the platform can be refined, and comes in sets of four, like this.

"A large medieval arabic city with docks and boats on a lake, digital art."



In my experience, I found that DALL-E created better output based on the number of examples that exist in the real world.  For example, is does a great job creating renaissance oil portraits.

DALL-E2 is free for up to 15 prompts per month, then it is ~$0.13/credit, sold in blocks of 115 for $15.



Things are going to get a little weird.

Midjourney is an AI art generation platform that describes itself this way:

"Midjourney an independent research lab exploring new mediums of thought and expanding the imaginative powers of the human species.

We are a small self-funded team focused on design, human infrastructure, and AI. We have 11 full-time staff and an incredible set of advisors."

The project is lead by David Holz, who was previously the Founder of Leap Motion, and a researcher at NASA. To say that David is an interesting dude, is a gross understatement.

The way Midjourney works, is very different from DALL-E2. The art generated comes fast and furious and is always conducted on Discord, a private-server social media platform. To register, you must have a Discord account (probably to keep the uncool people out) and once connected there's not much to explain to you what the heck is going on.  It looks a little like this:


From here, I had to do a little Googling: "how do I use midjourney?  If you are lucky, you find your way to the Midjourney Quickstart guide which reads a little like this:

  1. Join the Discord
  2. Find a Newbies channel
  3. Use the /imagine command (this is where to tell it what you want)
  4. Processes the Job (aka, wait around about a minute)
  5. Upscale or Create Variations (push one of 8 buttons that show up)
  6. Rate Images
  7. Save your image
  8. Subscribe to a Plan (you get 25 free jobs, then you have to pay)

Remember: all of this is done with at least a few dozen people in the same Discord channel.  So what do it look like? A little like this:


Let's look at some art (pulling a few random samples of what people were asking for).

/imagine thermonuclear godzilla as a fairy

thermonuclear godzilla as a fairy

/imagine dog with pirate hat

dog with pirate hat

/image Create a Athletic Clothing brand using earth tone colors and is minimalistic

an Athletic Clothing brand using earth tone colors and is minimalistic

All of these images are completely AI generated, with no human direction, except the text being input.  I'd like to let that sink in.

It never ends

I spent hours on these platforms, and I just only scratched the surface. To quote Alice (from Alice in Wonderland):

“Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end! `I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?'”

Thinking on it further, to say I've "scratched" the surface misses the point of these platforms: they are generating content as fast as millions of humans can type.  As of September, 2022 there were 1 million users of DALL-E2; in the same month, Midjourney reported 2 million users.

While I am a person who likes to contemplate the future, the implications of this technology elude me. I know this will be big, and I know that the world changed in 2023, but I have no idea where this will take us.  If you do or if you have any thoughts as usual, I'd love to hear from you.

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