Man Vs. The Machine — The Ethics of AI Art

Jason Dookeran
6 min readJan 27, 2023
Reach out and touch faith

What is art? Art means a lot of different things to people. If you ask an artist, you might get a description of the feelings that art evokes as they create a new piece. If you ask an art dealer, they might tell you something about the history of a piece and who owned it previously. If you ask a game designer, they’d probably tell you it’s assets that they can use and animate. But what is the value of art? CNN notes that AI-generated art has already won an art competition. Is this really art, or is it someone using software to generate an approximation of art? Is it even ethical to use AI art for anything?

Enter the Prompt Engineers

Prompt engineering is an art in itself

AI art is quite different from an artist’s typical process. Artists have unique ways they come up with the ideas they bring to life. It’s not easy being an artist. Not everyone has that skill to bring something fully formed from their mind onto canvas or a blank digital sheet. When you look at an artist building a piece, it seems like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It doesn’t even look like that finished product for a long time.

AI works similarly, except that it uses people’s prompts via words to create images. The AI samples publicly available art and takes its style prompts from the comments. So telling it “in the style of…” and adding an artist’s name will give the AI engine an idea of what the final image’s style should look like. And believe me, it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds here. Engineering a prompt to give you what you want might take hundreds of hours. Potentially longer than painting the damned thing yourself.

So, What If an AI Makes the Art?

Does anyone care that AI’s responsible for their ads?

I have zero artistic talent for images. I can barely even color inside the lines. Drawing has always been a struggle for me. Even as a game developer, I switched from 2D to more challenging 3D because it’s easier to get art assets and animations than draw them myself. For people like me…

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Jason Dookeran

Freelance author, ghostwriter, and crypto/blockchain enthusiast. I write about personal finance, emerging technology and freelancing