What is AI ?

“What is AI ?” is a question that is probably going to be asked more regularly in the future. Artificial Intelligence, to give it its full title, is being mentioned more and more as time goes by but do most of us really know what it is ? I certainly don’t, so when Adobe added AI to Adobe Express I decided to take a look and see what I could learn and this is the story so far!

I’m sure that what I have discovered so far is only the tip of the iceberg and looked at from a photographers perspective. I imagine that there are a host of other areas of life that AI can also be applied to as well. From what I have discovered so far I would loosely describe AI as a search engine of the future. Type in a description of what you’re looking for in a “search” box and AI will produce a whole array of results. In my case it was photographic backgrounds However, this is where the difference begins. A search engine will go away and come back with a list of suggestions from what exists already on the internet. AI creates original content based on your requests. For example, the header for this post was created using AI. I typed a request for a type writer at a desk with papers flying through the air and was presented with a range of images from which I selected the one shown. To the best of my knowledge this image didn’t previously exist but was created for me based on the information I listed. I did at one point type “typewriter” rather than type writer” and without the space I was offered images showing a typewriter rather than a person, so you do need to give some thought to what you ask for.

Lets look at a few more examples. I asked for a pony racing through the forest in a downpour and was offered an array of images from which I chose the one below.

I followed this by asking for a shipwreck on the high seas in a storm and got the following image

However, it’s interesting to note that I had to specifically ask for lightening as the images I was offered initially when just asking for a storm didn’t include any lightening. Again, you do have to think very carefully about what you ask for. So, so far, quite interesting but let’s delve a little deeper.

I have always been interested in the work of Helmut Newton and over the years have worked on developing a style inspired by his work. However, on a limited budget it isn’t always easy to find surroundings that capture the mood of Helmut Newton so I thought I would give AI the opportunity to do that for me and here are a couple of early examples of what I have managed to produce.

Above I have taken a couple of images of mine and decided what background I feel would best suit them. For the first image I just asked for a room in the style of Helmut Newton and for the second image I added art studio to the requirements and also requested without chairs as my model was already seated on the stool that is visible in the image. I’m quite pleased with the results and I’m sure that given a little more time and more refinement of my request words the results could be improved but it does seem to be a quick way of producing backgrounds for images without having to search through vast numbers of stock images or having to go out and hunt for suitable locations.. Does it also get round any copyright issues ? If a background is produced by AI is it then considered as your image ? There will be grey areas but what we have discovered so far so all looks fairly good . However I do think there is a down side to AI that is probably far greater that the positives. Let’s take a look at the image below.

Not a great image you might say but this has to be a cause for concern because this is an image totally created by AI. Everything here is the work of AI including the model. So, as I said above, it isn’t a great image, but AI is something that’s in its infancy. Where could it end? To arrive at the image above alI I did was  type a request for “Young female model in studio with lights visible” and this was one of many results returned. In the hands of someone skilled in the use of AI, models, studios and even cameras become obsolete. The implications are huge but I’m sure that this will be the way of things in the future. The technology is available and as we have seen so often in the past, if the technology is available then I’m not sure there is anything anyone can do to stop the progress. What impact AI will eventually have on our everyday lives remains to be seen and as I said at the beginning I am not an expert. I’m pretty sure that what i am detailing here is only a very small part of what AI is really capable of.





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