This is what censorship looks like…

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Mark Dixon
Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Last week a friend of mine was kicked out of a Facebook art group called “Inspired by Edward Hopper.” Well he wasn’t actually kicked off. We are having difficulty understanding what happened. He won’t be posting any of his images on the group’s page anymore. The manager of the group has since clarified this decision, saying that he will not restrict any posting. But “… as soon as an AI image appears, we get hundreds of complaints from other members and therefore it is too much to handle.” This group has over 225,000 members. The number of members who liked this decision was around 1,500 members. But those that shout the loudest are the ones who usually get their way.

We call these people bullies. Today, we see them everywhere.

This is the image that was the last straw for some members in the Facebook group called Inspired By Edward Hopper. ©2023 by Louis Servedio-Morales

Of course this assumes that those who use AI to create original artwork cannot have gone through any of these fundamental life experiences. These fearful people assume this because it affords them some small sense of superiority over that which they do not understand. And a sense of superiority over those who do understand.

The censors like to tell us that you have to struggle with your art in order to have an idea that can be considered good. They believe that everything about AI is stolen and can never be original — or created. That inspiration is something that cannot happen with AI. That true art only happens with life experiences, failures, influences, and learned skills.

They tell us that art is not a series of keywords and prompts, even though they are clueless about what these words mean. Especially when they relate to how to create something new and different.

What I have discovered is that this tool, known as AI, is just too new. As with so many other changes in our world today, it is all happening so fast it is easier to just shut our eyes and pretend it’s not real.

What is really happening is the change in generational attitudes. The people I work with every day who work in AI art are young people (younger than me anyway — and I’m as old as dirt). People all over the world have embraced these tools and the changes they bring. Herein lies the truth of the matter — this is an example of one older generation fearing the younger generation. Sound familiar?

I am reminded of a quote from Henry David Thoreau:  “What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can.” And this is exactly what is happening.

This controversy seems almost contrived when you consider all the crap that is happening in the world. For many it seems so unimportant. “Oh, the poor AI artists can’t show their work. Oh, boo hoo.” But what these people do not realize is that this censorship is just beginning. We are already seeing books being banned — and people being banned. Why would it matter if someone doesn't get to show their art on a Facebook group?

It matters because someone is telling you the work you struggled over and created is not worth existing. It matters because others have decided what “art” is and that what you are doing is not art. It matters because this is just the beginning in this battle over ideas. It matters because most people today do not have the attention span to understand history, to see how they are acting just as people did in the 50s with McCarthyism.

Or when the camera was invented.

Or when Photoshop was introduced.

Or in the 80s with people condemning the government spending money on art programs.

Or way back when women were burned at the stake because of a perceived slight to a community.

This list is endless. And I cannot foresee it ever ending — because it won’t.

Unfortunately, this is humanity at its worst — and people do not change.

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