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Artificial intelligence (AI) is infiltrating every industry, leaving no creative stone unturned. So, the million-dollar question is, does this signal the end of human artists as we know them, or is this simply the next logical step in the ever-evolving world of art?

AI-powered art programs are designed to learn from massive data sets of existing art and create images based on prompts. The idea is that the AI only mimics the patterns of existing art, but let's throw a wrench in the works: what if the AI's output looks like the work of a real artist? Are we looking at a copyright violation?

Cue the lawsuits. Artists are now suing companies and individuals behind AI programs, accusing them of unfairly using their work. The outcomes of these lawsuits will likely set precedents for intellectual property in our tech-driven age.

Now, imitation has been a cornerstone of art since the Renaissance, and many postmodern artists have actively rebelled against the concept of originality. But when does inspiration become appropriation? Remember when Andy Warhol wowed the world with his Brillo boxes? His meticulous recreation of an existing product redefined what art could be.


Andy Warhol at the opening of the 1968 exhibition at the Moderna Museet in front of 500 Brillo Boxes

However, another Warhol creation has proven to be far more controversial. The US Supreme Court is currently hearing a copyright case involving photographer Lynn Goldsmith, whose photo of Prince was used by Warhol in 1984 for a series of silkscreens.

At first glance, this may seem unrelated to AI lawsuits, but the fundamental questions are strikingly similar. Who gets the title of "artist"? The AI? The user who supplies the prompt? The photographer? The Brillo box designer? And if a Brillo box or Marcel Duchamp's urinal in "Fountain" can be transformed by a change in context and definition, can't the same be said for a photograph that becomes a series of silkscreens or an AI algorithm that melds and transforms existing artworks?

Appropriation has been a part of art since its inception, long before intellectual property laws existed. Inspiration doesn't exist in a vacuum, and it's rare for either artificial or organic intelligence to create something entirely new. But how do we draw the line? How can we ensure a non-exploitative future for art? How do we navigate the legal complexities of technology that evolves faster than our understanding? And should we just let art run its course?

In the end, should we rely on the Supreme Court or ChatGPT to make these decisions? The art of AI raises more questions than answers, and the canvas of the future remains uncertain.

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