AI coming for stock photos
Most of us are subjected to AI without our knowledge. The day is not far when most us will be using AI knowingly.
Most of the real-world application of artificial intelligence has come in the area of enterprise. Large enterprises deal with a lot of data and need to analyse and derive insights from that mountain of data.
When Facebook or Twitter had to deliver customised feeds to billions of requests every day.
When a bank has to automate the collection of a large amount of data for processing loans
When industries need to grade or sort a large number of items based on visual inspection
All of these applications automate a part of a business and eliminates labour in that area. To some degree, there is a need for intelligence in doing these things and hence artificial intelligence.
But now AI is well and truly finding its way into applications that consumers would use.
In 1997, I used Microsoft PowerPoint for the very first time. I made my first presentation for a school project. In those days if you needed to illustrate something you would turn to a thing called Clipart which would provide a set of images that you could use to make your presentation look richer.
In 1997, there were not a lot of images on the internet. Google was yet to be founded and so was Shutterstock. The images that the clipboard offered were the be-all and end-all of it.
Clipart does not even exist today. Instead, Microsoft fetches a bunch of images from the internet and makes them available in case you need any to sharpen your presentation. Even so, often times you find that you want an image to be juxtaposed in a certain way to make your point but you just are unable to get exactly what you want.
The other day I was writing a blog and wanted an image of a sun rising right behind a stone wall but could not find it on the internet (license free). I fired up Dall-E, a site which is run by OpenAI and allows you to generate any image you like just by entering text.
Safe to say, I did not get exactly what I had imagined but at least it made an attempt.
Now, Microsoft is integrating this AI technology into a new app they call Designer. You would be able to ask it to make the image you want rather than digging through a vast trove of images.
Microsoft will release a new standalone app called Microsoft Designer, tapping into the larger trend of bringing advanced graphic design capabilities to the masses.
Designer capitalizes on Microsoft’s partnership with research lab OpenAI to integrate DALL-E 2, which uses AI to generate images based on text descriptions.
Acknowledging the inherent risks of abuse of DALL-E 2, Microsoft says it has been working on its own and with OpenAI in an attempt to prevent the feature from delivering “inappropriate results,” such as explicit sexual and violent content; from reinforcing stereotypes; or from being otherwise misused.
Not to be left behind Shutterstock is also planning to partner with OpenAI.
Will AI image generators kill the stock image industry? It’s a question asked by many following the rise of text-to-image AI models in recent years. The answer from the industry’s incumbents, though, is “no” — not if we can start selling AI-generated content first.
Today, stock image giant Shutterstock has announced an extended partnership with OpenAI, which will see the AI lab’s text-to-image model DALL-E 2 directly integrated into Shutterstock “in the coming months.” In addition, Shutterstock is launching a “Contributor Fund” that will reimburse creators when the company sells work to train text-to-image AI models. This follows widespread criticism from artists whose output has been scraped from the web without their consent to create these systems. Notably, Shutterstock is also banning the sale of AI-generated art on its site that is not made using its DALL-E integration.
Images are a form of art and AI is most certainly coming for it. It is only a matter of time before you may not need a photographer for any kind of stock image. These are not images that we care much about. They are usually meant to make a point and we do not care where they came from.
The problem is that OpenAI seems to be becoming a de facto monopoly in the space. I would have expected behemoths such as Microsoft to compete in the space rather than co-opt them.
Let us see what Adobe and Canva do in the backdrop of these moves. Also given all the images that Google hoarded from all the Android phones, I am expecting a competing offering from them. Especially since their Ad revenue seems to be slowing down considerably.
AI will paint this renaissance.