AI or Artificial Intelligence has been in the news a lot in recent months. AI is a sophisticated software tool which can been trained to do specific jobs. It's actually not new. Advanced web search engines such as Google Search, the recommendations generated by Amazon Search, Youtube, Netflix including human voice recognition services like Alexa and Siri are just a few of the AI examples we already use everyday.

AI, just like the Internet, is technology that have and will continue to affect and change our lives. On the plus side, new AI tools can potentially be used by scientists and doctors to for example, pinpoint the genetic mutations which can cause disease. New AI continues to be developed like Norton's Genie, a free tool which is designed to help spot online scams.  Here is PCMag's review on its pros and cons.

 Just like the internet, it will replace some jobs but in most cases, it will make many jobs more efficient in that the software can do the mundane tasks quicker and easier. Since 2017, the Unity Health Network in Toronto has a dedicated AI unit which developed algorithms such as those which monitor patients every hour, on the hour. This reduced workload by 80 percent. Clinicians, doctors, nurses, aides are still needed to care for patients as AI can't make the kinds of judgement, decisions and physical tasks only humans can do. New types of jobs will undoubtedly emerge. Remember way back when word processors and computers basically eliminated the traditional typist jobs? Go back further, we can see transitions like this happen in history such as the Industrial Revolution. 

Open AI's ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer), a natural language processing AI, was launched only in 2022. By early 2023, it  has become the fastest growing consumer application program in history. It can certainly compose an essay for you, check the grammar of something you wrote or check the computer code you put together for errors. You can even ask ChatGPT to suggest gift ideas for a person with particular likes and dislikes! There are now all kinds of AI tools to generate images and even videos and computer codes. You still need humans to use the tools, be creative in what is asked of the AI to review the results because AI is also not perfect. 

There is also the very real danger of misuse if the use of AI generated work is not declared as such. It's called cheating. It's not just about students - many professions will be using AI.  Scientists could use AI which has led journals to suggest guidelines for AI use.  Governments will need time to craft proper laws to prevent the misuse of AI. The Canadian government recently released a code of conduct for Canadian companies on the use and development of AI in the interim. How effective or disruptive this stopgap measure is remains to be seen. 

The AI rollouts are rapid. Just launched recently is OpenAI's GPT-4V which allows you to include images in the prompts.  It was delayed because of huge privacy and safety issues with its facial recognition capabilities. The company has introduced red-teaming (processing denials) against uploads of people's faces and hateful images using this AI.  But how effective this check remains to be seen. See this Mashable article on the ways in which GPT-4V is already helping people such as reading manuscripts and improving on one's drawing:

In a world already awash with fake news, doctored images and wild  stories, AI will accelerate these fraudulent uses. Critical thinking, more than ever, has to taught to people so they can spot these fakes and not fall for them. 

Vulnerable people are particularly be at risk.  For example, they could use AI to generate an interactive avatar "friend". This already has had real-life consequences as a young man in the UK was recently sentenced to 9 years for breaking into Windsor Castle in late 2021 and threatening to kill the Queen with a crossbow. He had created an online female companion called Sarai using the Replika app which only reinforced his negative emotions and insecurities.

How Does AI Affect Creators?

Here is the most important point : AI cannot generate original work. Only humans can do that. AI thus copies human endeavors and builds on those. These AI generative tools for text, image, voice, music, video, computer code are all based on huge existing data sets. Where these AI companies get those sets to train their AI software, is highly controversial as the data is often just scrapped from the Internet, without their creators' consent let alone compensation.

The Author's Guild with prominent writers such as George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones), John Grisham, Scott Turow and Jonathan Frazen, have recently filed a lawsuit over copyright issues against OpenAI, the company that owns ChatGPT.  This is just part of the string of lawsuits from other writers, source code owners and visual artists.

Unscrupulous individuals are already pirating and profiting from using AI. According to this CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) report
Just last month, author Jane Friedman, told As It Happens (CBC radio) that she found at least five AI-created books for sale on Amazon with her name on them.
Stephen Fry, the British actor who narrated all the Harry Potter audio books, was dismayed when he discovered that his voice had been scrapped and used to narrate a history documentary. He pointed out at a festival in London, that the AI voice generator could use his voice in anything from a call of action to storm Parliament or even in porn videos, all without his knowledge or consent. Tom Hanks also recently called out a dental ad using an unauthorised digital version of himself. 

While I have never signed up with ChatGPT, I myself have encountered new AI tools within three apps  that I routinely use to help me produce and promote this blog and my Etsy listings. All these offerings were just in the last few months! I tested them so you can have a closer look at how AI works. 

AI Caption Writer for Later App

I use the pro version of the Later App to schedule my Beadinggem Instagram posts ahead of time. They now offer a caption writer.  

The left portion of the working Later dashboard below shows what I actually wrote and scheduled to help promote the work of OeiCeramics which was also featured on my blog. I did try out the caption writer by adding a prompt - a series of words which I want included. I opted for a casual style. 

Shown below are the first couple of results. The program allows you generate more captions until you find the one you like.  Seems like effortless writing, right?  

But I will personally not use the AI caption writer on a regular basis for three good reasons.  Firstly, it's not my normal writing style. Secondly, Instagram is a visual site - succinct captions are best. Too long and readers will not read through. If you exceed 125 characters, Instagram will truncate the caption and readers will see a "read more". 

You can certainly specify a particular writing style as I did. When I added "Shakespeare" to the prompt, then I get captions in sort of the bard's style! It's obvious the ChatGPT service which Later bought has scanned a lot of authors' work including those from long ago. In this case, what the AI generated is a clumsy mix of Shakespearean English with modern English. Students who attempt to cheat with AI can be caught out because there will be fluctuations of different writing styles.  Teachers now have different tools available to detect plagiarism.

Magic Media in Canva

Canva is the program I use to help me create the blog post banners (see top photo) as well as edit my tutorial pictures and videos. They offer an AI based tool called Magic Media which you can convert text to image. Canva is slowly rolling out text to video. The fine print on Magic Media use requires that you must declare what is generated as AI. 

As in the caption writer, I have to write a prompt, a series of words which tells the AI generator what to come up with. I initially chose a watercolor style - there are many others available.

The results were pretty wishy washy.

I then tried the same prompt again and added the name of the well known Japanese pop artist, Yayoi Kusama, whose work features a lot of polka dots. The first four results clearly shows that her art has been scanned. I literally could go on and generate more and more until I found one I liked. 

Specific artwork is copyright. Her original work has been used to train the AI for her style - without her consent. Nor was she compensated. That is why so many visual artists are concerned. Their original work could be scrapped, and "new works" sometimes even with original artist signatures on it as Greg Rutkowski, the popular digital fantasy artist, found out. Ethically speaking, this is theft.

Writing prompts actually requires some creativity and finesse. So you can now find many Etsy listings offering prompts to generate different styles of art! The most common are those designed using Midjourney but it is far from the only AI app for art generation out there. 

Midjourney uses Discord bot commands so prompts are not as straightforward like for text to image -there are many parameters to manage. Be it as it may, when an artist's name is specified and results are churned out, those artists most likely did not consent to having their original work used in such a manner.

There is even a Midjourney prompt for jewelry photography templates!  This listing is from TheCosmicCuriosities.

PhotoRoom Pro App for Smartphones

This brings me to the current photo editing app I am checking out -  the Pro version of PhotoRoom. The free version is useless, not just because of user limitations but their logo will appear on the photos. But it does offer the usual background removers and a whole host of AI generated backgrounds (no models), sizing options and styles for different selling marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, Poshmark, Depop etc. 

Here is a quick demo based a photo of my recycled tech necklace destined for my finished jewelry shop, CraftaGems. The first thing I did is erased the background and then looked for backgrounds. There are several choices as you can see from the selection below : 

I tried Flowers and this selection turned up. I could keep on clicking and get different flower templates until I found one I liked. The app seems to do a good job generating lots of options. However, esthetically, the busyness does not compliment a simple necklace such as this. Jewelry should be the main focus in photos. The AI also did not correct for a badly positioned pendant on the chain. In short, you still have to know how to photograph well and you still have to make the judgement call what is good and what is not.

Some of the templates I tried were just plain wrong!

I think there is great temptation to use these apps to generate quick photos. But I advise caution because it's all too easy to lose the main focus which should be on the jewelry piece.  Clean backgrounds are best, especially white ones, with no visual clutter. Also bear in mind that a shop should have a distinct and fairly consistent photography style. 

I have wondered where PhotoRoom gets those templates from, perhaps from free photo sharing sites - there are many. Or given that they specialize in photography, perhaps they took their own. But in truth, I don't really know. 

I have used some of the PhotoRoom backgrounds in a few of my Etsy shop listings but I mostly prefer to generate my own.   

Here are two pictures of my Christmas Glitter Gnome faux leather earrings. One used an AI generated background and one had real props.  Can you tell which is which?  Let me know your guess in the comments below (scroll down and find the comment button)!  I will add the answer to the comment section this Thursday. 

Also please share what you think of AI these days!


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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM