I obtained the image above by typing, “Stamford, in the style of Van Gogh,” into an artificial intelligence app called Stable Diffusion.
Artificial intelligence seems like it will be an inescapable topic of conversation very soon, so here is a primer. If you start now, you may still be able to be “cool” at holiday gatherings!
There are two forms of AI that are easily available to all of us: text-based, like ChaptGPT; or visual, like Stable Diffusion and DALL-E.
- ChatGPT is known for taking people’s disorganized notes and weaving them into prose. It’s got a large database of factual information, so we can ask it to do things like converting metric to imperial units, etc. I compared its prose to some writing done by a human and it doesn’t come close — it can’t draw connections or construct themes.
- Stable Diffusion and other image generators get their “ideas” from several different databases and the internet. It makes your picture based on a description you enter of what you would like to see. The neat thing about this is that it can make abstract design elements rather well. Entering “Red and gold, abstract,” yielded an interesting design in high resolution.
Essentially, these platforms are culture creatures. They reflect the Zeitgeist, or spirit of the times. This is where the negatives come into play. It’s been acknowledged in a lot of places that both text-based and visual AI apps have a pro-white bias.
Researching for this post, I had Stable Diffusion look at a company picture from JHA. When it spit out its own version, which was disturbing and bizarre, it inserted a man in the group photo who wasn’t in the original!
I think the takeaway is about what you intend to take away. If you need a new logo, Stable Diffusion is a great place to get ideas — or maybe even actual designs. If you use ChatGPT for recipes, you’ll probably not encounter much sexism or racism.
It’s important to remember, when talking about outdated ideas in AI, that it’s really just a mirror we’re looking into.
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