2023 has been an amazing year for anyone interested in technology, thanks to the explosion of generative A.I. tools like Chat GPT that seemingly do everything from plan your upcoming presentation to summarize that book you were too lazy to read for class, and even create A.I. art for you. But is the arrival of these new tools a good thing? Let’s explore the ways A.I. will change anime forever!
Why I Love the Promise of A.I. In General
First of all, I love technology, and whenever some new idea breaks through the cultural landscape, you can usually find me somewhere near the leading edge.
One subject I think about a lot as an entrepreneur is productivity, which is basically the value of one hour’s worth of work. When you calculate it across a whole year, it can really add up. In my own daily life of running J-List, I obsessively make use of various productivity tools, such as:
- Keyboard Maestro, a powerful tool for Mac that lets me automate the tasks I do every day. The program has saved me 17 months’ worth of time, according to the About this Program box.
- For my blog writing, Grammarly. Although it always wants me to add commas where they don’t belong.
- I love terminal-based programs like FFMPEG or Image Magick, which can make short work of the images and movie clips I post to the J-List Twitter feed.
- Since I’m often looking up the source of images or GIFs, I automate that with Yandex or Trace.moe. Google Images decided to end support for searching for animated GIFs, so they’re off my Christmas list until further notice.
As you can imagine, I’m super happy to have dozens of new A.I.-based tools that can theoretically revolutionize the kinds of work I can do. I use Chat GPT to suggest better blog titles or to brainstorm topics I want to write about, or suggest new angles to a topic I’m writing about. It’s got some limitations, but it’s generally very useful.
Why Do Some People Hate A.I. Art?
Of course, a lot of anime fans are dead set against any kind of automatically generated art. The reason is that the algorithms that create the amazing images we see on the Internet have generally been trained by scraping art created by real artists, so what A.I. art “creates” is often an amalgamation of many different pieces of art, without any money paid to the artists, or permission secured ahead of time.
Additionally, in a world where human artists are so under-appreciated by society, the rise of a new technology that could reduce the income artists receive from commissions is not going to be looked upon favorably by many fans.
I started browsing the #NotoAIArt hashtag on Twitter and it was quite an education. A lot of anime fans are taking no prisoners when it comes to A.I. art.
A.I. Art and Copyright
Does A.I. art even count as “art”? It might be something like how the perception of paintings shifted when photography was popularized in the late 19th century. Eventually, photography came to be viewed as a certain category of art, while painted landscapes and portraits remained another important kind of art.
In the U.S., the status of copyright related to A.I.-generated art is currently up in the air, although a recent USPTO decision denied copyright protection for a computer-generated work, as only art created by a human can be protected by copyright. In Japan, the Agency for Cultural Affairs has stated that using existing art to train an algorithm is permitted, but if an A.I.-generated image is deemed to be “derivative” of a copyrighted image, then damages could be claimed against the creator of the image.
The Downsides of A.I. Art and Related Tools
While everything is still in flux right now, the one thing we know is that things will change and get better, just like how all the crappy ideas for new businesses in the dot-com era gave way to amazing companies like Google and Amazon. Here are some of my current concerns about generative A.I.
- As a person who’s passionate about learning languages, I’ve got big concerns that the increased quality of translation by A.I. algorithms will lead to fewer people putting in the hard work to learn languages. Won’t students in Japan give up studying English if they know A.I. tools will be there in the future?
- The industry already has an issue with artists getting caught tracing artwork, which is a big cultural no-no in Japan, and the reason we’re still waiting for season 2 of No Game No Life. Imagine what could happen if an artist tries to use A.I. art programs to generate “new” art based on someone else’s creation? It could be a career-ending mistake.
- Then there are frustrating limitations built into chatbots, like when they refuse to answer any topic related to sex. When I ask Chat GPT to list all the roles played by Saori Hayamai who were MILFs, it refuses to answer. Okay, I’ll rephrase the question, then…
- If you’ve used Chat GPT to research a topic, you’ll know that the A.I. often lies through its teeth. If I ask it to “tell me all anime seiyu with birthdays in May” it cheerfully complies…but most or all of the dates are made up out of thin air. It correctly names Peter Payne as a longtime anime blogger and owner of J-List…then said I make regular appearances on CNN, and that I’ve produced several anime series. Huh?
So, What Should We Do About A.I.?
The issue of how the rise of A.I. art will affect artists on the Internet will sort itself out. Eventually these new tools will just be another part of how art is made, like Photoshop. Hopefully, we can quickly get through the “Napster” phase and reach a better place, where artists get compensation if their work is used to train robots, and can opt-out if they want.
A bigger issue is the opportunities all the new generative A.I. tools offer to anyone trying to improve their personal “skill stack” for future career advancement. It’s clear to me that 2023 will be looked back on as a watershed event, like the launching of the Netscape browser in 1994 or the launch of the iPhone in 2008. If you’re young, I believe you should be putting time into learning about these new tools, so that you can be ready for whatever the future holds. Because an A.I. won’t take your job someday, but someone who knows how to use it might.
Thanks for reading this blog post presenting my thoughts on the rise of A.I. art and other tools. Make sure to follow J-List on these platforms!
- Twitter, where Peter posts anime booba for you
- Facebook, where we share memes and discuss anime
- Instagram, for fans who want to keep up with J-List products in your Insta timeline
- Discord, if you want to chat with other J-List customers of culture
- Finally, check out J-List’s new short video blogs on YouTube or TikTok!
All the new anime magazines are in stock and ready for you to browse and buy them. The new Newtype is especially nice, loaded with visuals and posters from popular new anime series. Read our overview of the issue here, or buy the issue here!